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The Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States (SEC) last week issued a warning to market participants, which equated the initial offer of ICO crypto-currency projects to the traditional placement of securities and warned about the need to register such transactions.
"Federal securities laws apply to those who put up for sale and sell securities in the US, regardless of whether the issuing organization is a traditional company or a decentralized autonomous organization, regardless of whether these securities are purchased using US dollars or virtual currencies, and irrespective of whether they are distributed in a certified form or through registration technology, "the SEC said.
ICO (initial coin offering) resembles the initial placement of securities on the stock exchange (IPO), but in its course for the sale of a stake in the company, investors pay crypto currency, for example bitcoins. The key difference between ICO and the usual IPO is that companies sell not a business they have already created, but in fact they promise a contract describing the structure of tokens (digital tokens). And the promise of future results in the ICO is the only guarantee to investors, says managing partner of United Traders Anatoly Radchenko.
Some companies provide their tokens with gold or end products. For example, in May, the Kolyanovo farm of Mikhail Shlyapnikov in the Moscow region attracted more than $ 500,000 to the ICO via the Waves platform. Commodity coupons were used as tokens-colons. Investors with tokens of the company can later sell them for money, or get the products produced by the farm, in particular seedlings from the nursery. According to Radchenko, tokens can also be used to pay for goods, for example, to be discounts or with their help, investors are transferred part of the management of the company, the right to participate in the distribution of profits.
The conditions for entering the IPO are strict: all securities that are issued in the territory of a certain country are registered in accordance with its legislation. Moreover, on the threshold of the transaction, information about the beneficiaries is fully disclosed, information about the company is compulsorily audited, adds Anatoly Radchenko. If in the US companies at the disclosure of this information deceived by the SEC, the guilty can face from 20 to 30 years of prison, he says. In addition, people who invest money in IPO projects should be qualified investors with "clean money", the expert explains. In the ICO relation, no restrictions or rules have been formulated until recently.
The legal settlement of the ICO status will oblige all issuers to register, which should contribute to the transparency of this market. However, both organizers and investors do not want to show their income, says Vadim Valeev, CEO of Cryptinvest.biz. In this regard, he believes that large fi nite companies "will go offshore", avoiding the attention of the regulator. "Companies either go into the shadows, or simply register outside the country, for example, in Singapore, so as not to pay taxes and not to face regulators," he said.
The started regulation of ICO was criticized by Pavel Durov, the creator of the telegram messenger Telegram and the social network "VKontakte". In his opinion, thus, "the SEC prohibited American companies and investors from taking part in the future of the world economy," he wrote in his Twitter.
Realities of Crypto-currency in Russia
In April, Deputy Minister of Finance Alexei Moiseyev said that in 2018, crypto currency, bitcoin will be able to obtain the status of a financial product in Russia. He also noted that the ministry is in favor of making bitcoin a digital commodity or asset, and not counting it as a currency. However, the Central Bank believes that it is premature to talk about the full legalization of the crypto currency in the Russian market. At the moment, the Bank of Russia is discussing the issue of recognizing bitcoin with the Ministry of Finance and Rosfinmonitoring. It is planned that the position of the regulator for the crypto currency will be determined by 2018. Meanwhile, the State Duma began discussing amendments to the legislation, which would legitimize investments related to attracting crypto-currencies through the ICO. So far, however, the proposals created for this working group have not been published.
At the Bank of Russia, RBC noted that at the moment the agencies concerned are developing a joint position regarding the status of the Crypto-currency. "After that, the approaches to their regulation will be determined and other issues will be considered," the spokesperson for the Central Bank said.
ICO in Russia
Experts agree that the decision of the SEC in the long term will favorably affect both the global and Russian markets, clearing them of unreliable issuers. ICO will be less frequent, but citizens will have more confidence in the companies conducting it, experts believe. Russia is on the verge of understanding what the ICR and ICO are in general, and to determine their status, the Central Bank may refer to the experience of foreign colleagues and use it in their regulatory acts, which in future will regulate the crypto currency and the ICO, Radchenko said. "The introduction of regulation will cleanse the market of too risky and unreliable projects, people will be more serious about fulfilling their obligations, because they will be responsible for them," the expert said. Companies that enter the IPO also do not always bring profit to investors, but at least when investors place their securities on the exchange, investors are notified of such risks, and the activities of companies become more transparent after the placement, he adds.
The market of crypto-currencies is still developing and immediately it is unreasonable to make strict restrictions even at the stage of its formation, says Denis Smirnov, a consultant, a consultant for the project Lisk in Russia, a consultant for SONM and IMMLA projects. "This is primarily due to the fact that in Russia there is still no regulation, and before starting to collect taxes and dividends from this segment, it is necessary to give the market an opportunity to develop autonomously," he concludes.
Some companies that conduct ICO and have Russian roots (for example, one of the largest decentralized platforms for carrying out crowdfending and the release of digital values Waves), are not registered in Russia. "The Central Bank is very cautious in matters related to virtual shares and blocking," Valeev says. - Waves at its ICO attracted by June 1, 2016 about 30 thousand bitcoins ($ 16 million at the market rate at the time of collection - RBC). At the moment, the total capitalization of Waves' crypto currency is $ 281.4 million, but this is not the capitalization of the company itself, most of it is held by holders of Waves, shareholders. "
But officially, Russian companies have successfully attracted funds through the ICO mechanism, including through Waves. So, in June, Chelyabinsk start-up ZrCoin for zirconium production conducted ICO on the platform Waves and attracted $ 7 million from almost 4 thousand investors. The cost of one token equated to the cost of a kilogram of zirconium dioxide - this is a raw material the company plans to produce at a plant near Magnitogorsk, which is going to be built.
The last incident
Despite the fact that the market for crypto-currency in Russia is just beginning to develop, investors have reason to fear the risks associated with this instrument. One of the biggest scandals was caused by the termination of the last week's work of the BTC-e crypto exchange. BTC-e is an online exchange site for common currencies and real-time crypto currency. There is practically no official information about the company; on its website there is no registration information and no legal jurisdiction is indicated, as there is no exact information about the owners. It is only known that the BTC-e was founded in June 2011 by people from Russia - graduates of Skolkovo. According to the founders of CoinDesk, the site was registered in Cyprus, its servers are in Bulgaria, and several banks are used to conduct operations, one of them in the Czech Republic.
Since July 25, the work of the exchange has been suspended, and the site says about technical work for up to ten days. Writing under the hashtag #btce on Twitter, Reddit users believe that the exchange could be hacked or closed. The representative of Yandex.Money (with their help it was possible to raise funds for the BTC and shoot them) told RBC that the company "heard about the problem, but do not know how it affected the users of the exchange." The currency exchange has only adjusted the possibility of payment through electronic wallets, direct integration with Yandex.Money and conversion of crypto currency, the service representative noted. According to the Etherscan crypto currency platform, from the moment the BTC-e Exchange left to the offline mode, only one transaction was made on it: $ 94.5 million was withdrawn from its Ethereum purse at the rate as of July 31.
Partner Bain & Сompany Yegor Grigorenko notes that this is the first major case of mass losses, which, however, speaks not about the weakness of technology, but about the weaknesses of organization of a specific site. "In the next couple of years, the Russian regulator should not worry too much about this market because of its small scale - the ICO market now stands at a total of $ 300 million versus $ 20 billion in investments in fiintech start-ups," the expert concludes.
In Greece, at the request of the United States, Alexander Vinnik, co-founder of BTC-e, was detained. On July 26, US authorities charged him with laundering $ 4 billion through operations with Crypto-currency with the help of BTC-e, according to a statement by the California Northern District Prosecutor's Office. According to the police, Vinnik since 2011 led a criminal organization, owned and operated "one of the largest sites in the world in the field of electronic crime."
Meanwhile, questions to the new technological platforms arise not only from law enforcement agencies, but also from the judiciary. The last example is the blocking of 40 bitcoins-services at once by the decision of the St. Petersburg court on July 26. Earlier, the Oktyabrsky district court of the city granted the application of the prosecutor's office, having decided to recognize the information banned on the territory of Russia, distributed on the Internet at network addresses where the online exchange of bitcoins and other operations with crypto-currencies is provided.
The Ministry of Finance did not respond to RBC's request. We could not contact BTC-e representatives.
More information on RBC http://www.rbc.ru/finances/31/07/2017/5978b37d9a7947f318d949be
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