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SEC Fined Coinme $4M For 'Misleading' UpToken ICO

Key Takeaways
  • The SEC fined Coinme almost $4 million for offering unregistered securities and making "misleading statements" about its UpToken ICO
  • Coinme's ICO of UpToken, which raised $3.6 million, was allegedly an investment contract and an unregistered securities offering
  • Coinme, Up Global, and CEO Neil Bergquist were all charged with violating securities laws
01-May-2023 By: Ashish Sarswat
SEC Fined Coinme $4M

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Has Imposed a Fine of Almost $4 Million on Coinme, a Cryptocurrency Exchange

The fine was for offering unregistered securities and making "misleading statements" about its crypto token UpToken (UP). The exchange, along with its subsidiary Up Global SEZC and CEO Neil Bergquist, was charged with violating securities laws in relation to the sales and statements of the UP token.

The SEC alleged that Coinme, Up Global, and Bergquist's initial coin offering (ICO) of UP, which took place from October to December 2017, was an investment contract and unregistered securities offering under the Howey test. The ICO raised approximately $3.6 million to expand the number of Bitcoin  ATMs in Coinme's fleet. UP token holders received benefits such as discounted fees and 1% cashback when using the ATMs.

However, Coinme changed its offering in January 2019 and partnered with Coinstar to use its cash-counting kiosks to facilitate cash-to-crypto transactions instead of its ATMs. By July 2019, Coinme had shut down all of its ATMs.

The SEC also accused Bergquist and Up Global of making "false and misleading statements" about the demand for UP tokens and the amount raised in the offering. The SEC stated that Bergquist and Up Global took steps to reduce Coinme's need to purchase UP tokens after the ICO for the ATM rewards program.

In addition, the SEC claimed that Coinme sent over 160 BTC, worth more than $1 million at the time, to an Up Global wallet used to receive investor funds in the ICO. Up Global sent back around 14.5 million UP tokens at a discount to Coinme, creating the impression that a third party had made a large purchase.

Another example of misleading behavior, according to the SEC, was that Bergquist negotiated a 500 Bitcoin round-trip transaction of UP tokens with an unnamed Hong Kong company. Coinme borrowed the funds to purchase more UP at a discount, creating an impression of demand for the tokens.

SEC Fines Coinme And Executives Over UpToken ICO

The SEC imposed penalties against Up Global of $3.52 million, against Coinme $250,000, and against Bergquist of $150,000. Coinme was also liable for the penalty imposed on Up Global. Bergquist agreed to settle the charges without admitting or denying the SEC's findings and was barred from acting as an executive of a public company for three years.

Coinme did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The fines imposed on Coinme and its subsidiaries demonstrate the SEC's continued commitment to monitoring and regulating the cryptocurrency industry to ensure compliance with securities laws.

Also read- Coinbase Executive Leverages ChatGPT For Crypto Forecasts

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