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SEC Charges Five For Promoting $2 Bln Unregistered Digital Asset Offering

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it has filed an action against five individuals for allegedly raising more than $2 billion from retail investors through a global unregistered digital asset securities offering. The complaint seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement plus interest, and civil penalties.

The SEC's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges U.S.-based Trevon Brown, Craig Grant, Ryan Maasen, and Michael Noble for marketing and selling unregistered securities in its "lending program" between about January 2017 and January 2018.

This also included U.S.-based Joshua Jeppesen, who served as a liaison between BitConnect and promoters and represented BitConnect at conferences and promotional events. All the five are charged of promoting the BitConnect Ponzi scheme.

BitConnect used a network of these promoters to offer and sell the securities without registering the securities offering with the Commission, and without being registered as broker-dealers with the Commission, as required by the federal securities laws.

The SEC complain alleged that the promoters advertised the merits of investing in BitConnect's lending program to prospective investors, including by creating "testimonial" style videos and publishing them on YouTube, sometimes multiple times a day.

According to the complaint, the promoters received commissions based on their success in soliciting investor funds. They unlawfully sold unregistered digital asset securities by actively promoting the BitConnect lending program to retail investors.

The SEC's complaint charges the promoter defendants with violating the registration provisions of the federal securities laws, and Jeppesen with aiding and abetting BitConnect's unregistered offer and sale of securities.

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