Wall Street regulators are stepping up enforcement actions against cryptocurrency investments - and it could add legitimacy to the nascent market in the long run

13 September 2018 | Applicable law: US

This article was initially published by Business Insider on September 13, 2018 and features insight from Clyde Tinnen.

Two US financial regulators issued a string of actions earlier this week against companies that have been involved with cryptocurrencies, in the first major attempts to regulate the burgeoning industry.

In the first case, the SEC made its first-ever actions against a crypto hedge fund, alleging that California-based fund manager Crypto Asset Management LP misrepresented itself as the country's "first regulated crypto asset fund" and operated unregistered.

The agency also took action against a self-described initial coin offering (ICO) "super store," named Token Lot, for failing to register as a broker while connecting buyers with digital assets.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-governing authority that regulates the brokerage industry, meanwhile, issued its first-ever disciplinary action to an unregistered cryptocurrency security called Hemp Coin.

Regulators continue to debate whether cryptocurrencies should be classified as securities, meaning they would be regulated similarly to stocks by the SEC.

Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that US securities laws should govern initial coin offerings, echoing the view of SEC chair Jay Clayton who said in February that he had never seen an ICO that wasn't a security. ICOs are where startups issue their own cryptocurrency in exchange for money to build their business.

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