A United States federal court has ordered two executives from crypto firm AriseBank to pay nearly $2.7 million in fines, according to a U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announcement Dec. 12. The ruling follows an investigation by the SEC, which found that AriseBank was operating a fraudulent Initial Coin Offering (ICO).
AriseBank CEO Jared Rice was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Nov. 28 on charges of defrauding hundreds of investors of over $4 million. Rice allegedly falsely claimed that the bank could offer customers “FDIC-insured accounts and traditional banking services, including Visa-brand credit and debit cards, in addition to cryptocurrency services.”
Per today’s announcement, AriseBank founders Rice and then-COO Stanley Ford are held liable for $2,259,543 in disgorgement plus $68,423 in prejudgment interest. They must also pay civil penalties of $184,767 each, and will be prohibited from serving as officers of public companies or engaging in offerings of digital securities.
Rice was reportedly not authorized to offer banking services in Texas, had no access to FDIC insurance, and had no partnership with Visa at all. Moreover, Rice allegedly spent investors’ funds for his personal ends, while posting AriseBank’s “nonexistent” benefits both in printed press releases and online.
This month, the SEC issued a cease and desist order against CoinAlpha Advisors LLC — which managed CoinAlpha Falcon LP fund — in addition to ordering a $50,000 penalty. The fund had allegedly raised over $600,000 from 22 investors, which purchased limited partnership interests in the fund in exchange for a proportional share of any profits derived from the fund’s investment in digital assets. The company was not registered with the SEC, therefore violating securities laws.
In November, the Securities Commissioner of the U.S. State of Texas issued an emergency cease and desist order against crypto investment firm My Crypto Mine and its principal Mark Steven Royer. The order alleged that Royer “acting on behalf of a white-collar criminal [Bruce Bise] and disbarred attorney [Samuel Mendez], offered tokens that are now nearly worthless” via a crypto investment scheme dubbed “BitQyk.”
Also in November, the SEC chairman Jay Clayton reiterated his wary view of crypto markets. Clayton said that the securities regulator had worked hard to educate investors about the risks of participating in an emerging and unpredictable market, one for which regulation is still taking shape. The chairman also acknowledged the limitations facing the regulator in the context of offshore token sales.