US regulators accuse Abra startup of unregistered sale of crypto assets securities swaps. Abra fined $ 150,000.
According to a press release from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), using the Abra crypto-investment application, users entered into contracts that provide access to the dynamics of stock prices and traded exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as well as concluded trading transactions through the blockchain. With the help of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the SEC found out that the Abra platform and its affiliate Philippine company Plutus Technologies were selling cryptocurrency securities swaps without registering on the national stock exchange, which violates U.S. securities laws.
It is reported that Abra began offering such contracts to retail investors from the United States and other countries in February 2019. According to the SEC, Abra has not taken any measures to determine whether users who downloaded the application comply with the terms of the contract under US securities law. In the same month, Abra stopped selling such swaps after the SEC notified, but in May 2019 it resumed this activity, limiting its offers to American investors. This means that part of Abra’s operations was performed outside the United States, while platform employees in California promoted swap contracts among American investors, and then selected users who could buy these contracts. The SEC found that Abra’s US employees made several thousand stock and ETF transactions in the United States to hedge contracts.
The SEC and CFTC have ordered firms to stop committing unlawful acts and refrain from resuming them. Abra and Plutus Technologies did not plead guilty, but did not dispute the charges of regulators, agreeing to pay a fine of $ 150,000.
“Platforms working with securities are required to undergo mandatory registration and must provide investors with all the information necessary for assessing risks. Firms offering securities-based swaps will not be able to evade federal securities laws, even if they register in another country as a counterparty, because most of their business is in the USA, ”said Daniel Michael, head of department SEC, working with integrated financial instruments.
Recall that in November last year, SEC and CFTC accused First Global Credit (XBT) of unregistered sale of bitcoin swaps. In addition, last week, Chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Heath Tarbert said that the launch of new cryptocurrency futures in the United States depends solely on the decision of the SEC.