The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has settled a fine with a Russian firm that was pushing initial coin offerings (ICOs) without disclosing the fact that it had accepted payment to do so.
Late yesterday, the SEC announced it has reached a $268,998 settlement with ICO Rating. According to the SEC, ICO Rating promoted cryptocurrency projects between December 2017 and July 2018 – the infamous boom period – that should have been classified as securities.
As a result, ICO Rating should have disclosed the fact that it accepted payment to promote some coins and tokens.
ICO Rating positions itself as “a rating agency that issues independent analytical research.” Perhaps ironically now in hindsight, the website also says its mission is “to help the market achieve the necessary standards of quality, transparency and reliability.”
It seems the company itself can’t even meet basic standards of transparency with this latest news.
ICO Rating has neither admitted nor denied the SEC‘s claims. However, it has agreed cease and desist from committing any future violations of the same nature. It also agreed to repay its ill-gotten gains and prejudgment interest totaling $106,998, and a civil penalty of $162,000.
Indeed, this news is hardly surprising. An investigation by Breaker last year, found that half of the crypto-media outlets they contacted would accept money to publish information about ICOs as if it were independent editorial content.