Guilty Plea Moves First US ICO Fraud Case to Final Stages, Sentencing Set for April

The suspect at the center of the U.S.’ first Initial Coin Offering (ICO) fraud case has pleaded guilty in court, in part settling a case seen as a bellwether for the country’s securities laws, Bloomberg reported Nov. 15.

Maksim Zaslavskiy, who faces a sentence of up to 37 months after lying to investors who put funds into two ICOs last year, confirmed he had lied about aspects of his operations.

The court case involves REcoin and Diamond Reserve Coin, which had claimed to be backed by real estate and diamonds respectively. Investors lost money when both coins imploded, Zaslavskiy and his accomplices having never in fact secured any of the alleged backing.

“I, along with others, made these false statements to obtain money from investors,” Bloomberg quotes him as telling the court in New York:

“We had not yet purchased any real estate [...] we had not purchased any diamonds.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) originally filed charges against Zaslavskiy in September 2017, the case since then becoming a topic of interest among commentators eager to see if the regulator would — or could — class the ICO offerings at hand has securities under its jurisdiction.

As Cointelegraph reported, a U.S. district judge ruled securities laws could apply to cryptocurrencies in September. It would be up to a jury to determine whether those in this case should receive the same treatment.

Zaslavskiy will return to court for sentencing in April 2019.