SEC continues streak of enforcement actions, targets BKCoin for alleged $100M fraud

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has targeted an investment adviser and individual allegedly connected to a $100-million cryptocurrency fraud in its latest enforcement action.

According to a March 6 announcement, the SEC filed an emergency action on Feb. 23 against investment adviser BKCoin and one of the principals, Kevin Kang, alleging the two “disregarded the structure of the funds, commingled investor assets, and used more than $3.6 million to make Ponzi-like payments to fund investors.” The financial regulator’s complaint alleged that BKCoin raised roughly $100 million from investors to invest in crypto, but Kang diverted some of the funds for personal use – including vacations, tickets to sporting events tickets and an apartment.

“As we allege, investors entrusted their money to the defendants to trade in crypto assets,” said Eric Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. “Instead, the defendants misappropriated their money, created false documents, and even engaged in Ponzi-like conduct. This action highlights our continued commitment to protecting investors and uprooting fraud in all securities sectors, including the crypto asset arena.”

The SEC complaint was the latest enforcement action targeting a firm or individuals involved in crypto, alleging violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. According to the regulator, the SEC intended to seek disgorgement, prejudgement interest, and a civil penalty against BKCoin and Kang as well as a permanent injunction against both parties.

Related: Is the SEC’s action against BUSD more about Binance than stablecoins?

Many in the space have criticized chair Gary Gensler, who leads the SEC as the agency moves forward on a series of anti-crypto actions, for labeling some crypto assets as securities through enforcement rather than the court system. The Wall Street Journal reported on March 5 that crypto exchange Binance attempted to hire Gensler as an adviser in 2018 and 2019 before his appointment as SEC chair.

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