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Abra agrees to a Cease & Desist Order after being Sanctioned by US SEC & CFTC



Cryptocurrency trading App Abra has been sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States for “unregistered securities based swap transactions” according to the order effecting it. 

The regulator opined that the Firm Abra and it’s related firm Plutus Technologies Philipines were allegedly “offering and selling security-based swaps to retail investors without registration” and that they both failed to “transact those swaps on a registered national exchange”.

Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S.

According to the SEC, the firm Abra “developed and owns an app that enables users to bet on price movements of…. stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETF) shares trading in the US”

The SEC explaining further, said the contracts were security-based swaps which are within the purview of the securities laws establishing the commission. The SEC alleged that Abra took no steps to determine whether users who downloaded the App were ‘eligible contract participants’ according to securities law….. and that the firms’ employees in the US “designed and marketed the swap contracts, and screened and approved users who would be allowed to buy the contracts”

According to SEC, both Abra and Plutus Technologies agreed to a cease and desist order and to pay a fine of $150,000 without admitting or denying the findings in the order. 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has also sanctioned the two firms “for entering into illegal off-exchange swaps in digital assets and foreign currency with US and overseas customers and registration violations.”

The CFTC fined them to pay $150,000 civil monetary penalty and to cease and desist order further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA)


Regulation News

Prosecutor General in Russia proposes a system to tackle Crypto crimes



The sporadic increase in the crypto-related crimes recently has made the law enforcement agencies and the Russian government take preventive measures against tackling and detecting these criminal activities. The alarming rate of these crypto criminals is becoming insane of recent; the hackers, those that run Ponzi schemes, false investment schemes and a number of them. These activities have had effect on crypto as well. Government authorities in different countries have been warning citizens while some went as far as placing bans on crypto activities in their regions.
The prosecutor General of Russia, Igor Krasnov was the chairman of the meeting with the heads of law enforcement agencies of Russia. Members from central offices, agencies and bodies were present at the meeting. The prosecutor General called the attention of all present at the meeting to the annual increase in cybercrimes; hacks and those who were in a bid to hack Russian agencies, corporations and banks by using framework in other countries. He also included that new technologies are widely acting as a means to committing a number of crimes.
He stressed that the issue of crypto-related crimes has become a matter of urgency that required immediate attention. Krasnov noted that cryptocurrencies are now widely used by criminals for terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking among others. He noted that cybercriminals never cease to develop new styles of encrypted data to make their criminal activities hard to trace.
The Prosecutor General proposed creation of an automated system that will increase the prevention of cybercrime. He noted that the fast nature of cybercrimes will need a “real-time technology” to predict them before they occur and prevent their re-occurrence again in the nearest future. Russia is again giving attention to cyber crimes related to crypto. It was reported that a legal structure was drafted in November that gave security agencies to seize cryptocurrencies associated with fraudulent activities.

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Regulation News

Crypto Trading & Investing is permissible, says Malaysia Shariah Advisory Council 



Citizens of Malaysia can now freely invest in cryptocurrency and trade the same on registered cryptocurrency exchanges according to the Shariah Advisory Council of the Malaysian Securities Commission.

This was revealed in the Invest Malaysia 2020 event this week by the Shariah Advisory Council which said via its Chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar in a panel session “The Securities Commission Shariah Advisory Council has resolved that in principle, it is permissible to invest and trade in digital currencies and tokens on registered digital asset exchanges”

Since cryptocurrency became a thing and gaining global relevance, some members of the Islamic communities have been reluctant to touch crypto considering how averse they are to non-shariah compliant products. 

Source: Forbes

This reluctance has made a good number of the nation’s population to not get involved in cryptocurrency as Muslims represent a significant percentage of the total population. The Islamic Tourism Center describe the nation as multiracial state with Islam being the official religion constitutionally, though the shariah laws are only applicable to Muslims. 

The revelation by the Shariah Advisory Council could fuel the growth of crypto products and innovation in the economy as there are only three registered cryptocurrency exchanges that are operating in the country of which are Luno, Sinegy Technologies and Tokenize Technology. 

In the words of the Chairman of the Securities Commission, Datuk Syed Zaid Albar, it’s “a really ground-breaking resolution by Shariah Advisory Council that could spur greater development and investment in digital assets…”. 

While the resolve of the Council is not yet absolute, the Securities Commission’s chairman said that, “once the resolution is finalised, we will issue further details”

Image credit: AsiaTimes

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Regulation News

ICO Rating To Pay Settlement Charges to US SEC of $268,998 For Undisclosed Paid Reviews





The Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States has announced that ICORating an ICO ratings provider firm has agreed to pay a settlement charge of $268,998.

In an investigation carried out by SEC’s Ashley Ebersole and Louis Gicale supervised by Melissa Robertson, the rating organization was found to have received payments for giving ratings to cryptocurrency projects. A violation of the securities law.

The Russian organization had decided to pay the sum because it failed to disclose payments received from issuers for publicizing their digital asset securities offerings.

According to SEC, between the period of December, 2017 and July 2019 the organization produced research reports and ratings of “blokchain-based digital assets” coins/tokens that were securities. These research were published on the organization’s website and social media.


Based on securities law, promoters are expected to disclose compensation received for publishing investments so that potential investors will be know what they are seeing is a well paid promoted offering.


According to SEC, ICO Rating violated the anti-touting provisions of Section 17(b) of the Securities Act of 1933. The organization has agreed to cease and desist from committing or causing any future violations of these provisions though it did not admit or denied the SEC findings.


The settlement of $268,998 is made up of prejudgment interest of $106,998 and civil penalty of $162,000


According to its website, ICO Rating addresses itself as “a rating agency that issues independent analytical research” with the mission “to help the market achieve the necessary standards of quality, transparency and reliability”

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Regulation News

We Will Regulate Cryptocurrencies Using Electronic Financial Transactions Framework -Mike Pompeo



Image: Yahoo

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that, to regulate cryptocurrencies, the same framework that was used for other electronic financial transactions today should be adopted.


This he made known in an interview with CNBC where he also talked about the ongoing trade war with China and the administration’s position on the issue.


Mike Pompeo’s position on cryptocurrency regulations came as a response to a question raised by the CNBC interviewer when he asked “so how do you regulate these things like Libra or a Bitcoin?  What do you do?  It’s – Bitcoin’s going to be tough to regulate.  It’s already out of the bag, isn’t it?”



Answering, Mike submitted that “The same set of requirements that apply to things flowing through SWIFT or flowing though our financial institutions ought to apply to those transactions as well.   I concede it will be difficult to do, but the theory, the regulatory theory, that we ought to apply is that one.”.



Responding to a question about cryptocurrency as a tool for financing terrorism and the fact that prior cryptocurrencies, nefarious activities had been sponsored with cash – dollar, Pompeo gave an affirmation that indeed crime has been perpetuated with the USD in time past, so it is not peculiar to cryptocurrencies only.


Mike believes a world where financial transactions are harder to trace would be less secure. The solution to this is the protection/preservation of a global financial system. He cited the lack of financial tracking capabilities as at 9/11 and 15years prior


Recall that US Secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin had in a press conference held in the White House in July, expressed concerns over the Libra saying it could be used for money laundering or financing terrorism.


He said the US will not allow digital assets service providers to operate in the shadows and using cryptocurrencies for illicit activities will invite the full effort of the US Treasury and regulators. He maintained that the United States has been at the forefront of regulating entities that provide cryptocurrencies.


According to him, while the government welcomes innovation that may improve the efficiency of the financial system and expand access to financial services, Libra poses a threat to the financial stability and integrity of the US financial system since cryptocurrencies has been exploited by many players to facilitate illegal activities such as cybercrime, tax evasion illicit drugs, human trafficking etc.

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