The Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading in the securities of Nevada-based American Retail Group, Inc. (aka Simex, Inc.) after they claimed to be partnered with an SEC qualified custodian for use with cryptocurrency transactions in two August 2018 press releases. The releases reported that the cryptocurrency transactions would be “under SEC Regulations,” and that Simex, Inc. was conducting a public offering of preferred stock that was “officially registered in accordance [with] SEC requirements.”
The SEC suspended trading in the securities of Simex, Inc. due to concerns about inaccurate and insufficient information in the marketplace regarding the company’s products and services and purported regulatory approvals. The SEC order was entered pursuant to Section 12(k) of the Exchange Act.
Earlier this month, Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit, said that the SEC “does not endorse or qualify custodians for cryptocurrency” and warned investors to be “skeptical of those attempting to sell digital assets” that make claims about future SEC actions. Cohen stated that to allay confusion, the SEC will announce official actions regarding digital assets through official government sources. Examples of official government sources include agency press releases, the Federal Register, an agency’s official government website (SEC.gov, Investor.gov, or CFTC.gov), or authorized public statements by the agency’s leadership.
The SEC can suspend trading in stock for 10 days and can enjoin a broker-dealer from soliciting investors until the broker-dealer has met reporting requirements. Pursuant to rule 15c2-11 under the Exchange Act, at the termination of the trading suspension, no quotation can be issued unless they have “strictly complied with all provisions of the rule.”
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has issued materials to educate investors, including an Investor Bulletin on initial coin offerings and a mock ICO website. Additional information is available on SEC.gov/ICO and Investor.gov.
If you have questions about SEC regulation of cryptocurrency transactions and complying with rule 15c2-11, call the Bradshaw Law Group before publishing statements that may lead to SEC enforcement action.