The SEC collected $1.26 billion from unregistered ICOs in 2020

Related articles


The Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has collected more than $4.68 billion in illegal income and fines this year so far — with more than one quarter coming from Telegram’s ill-fated Gram’s token sale alone.

In total around $1.26 billion was handed over to the SEC by unregistered initial coin offerings (ICOs).

SEC Division of Enforcement Director Stephanie Avakian stated:

“The Commission obtained judgments and orders totaling approximately $4.68 billion in disgorgement and penalties – the highest amount on record.”

The division’s annual report for the 2020 fiscal year, published earlier this month, provides a comprehensive overview of the agency’s actions including eight ICO enforcements. By far the bulk of the ICO money collected came from Telegram.

In October 2019, the SEC filed an emergency lawsuit against Telegram for its ICO of Gram tokens. Telegram agreed to return $1.2 billion to investors and pay an $18.5 million fine, in one of the largest cases for the entire year. Telegram’s payment made up 26% of the entire amount collected by the SEC.

In 2019 the SEC also filed a complaint against Kik for its unregistered securities sale. The firm will pay $5 million to the SEC.

The other six cases against Bitclave, Shopin, NAC Foundation, Unikrn, Boon Tech, and Bitcoiin2Gen reaped roughly $40 million in seizures. However, the case against the NAC Foundation is yet to be resolved with the foundation filing for San Francisco Superior Court to throw the case out due the SEC allegedly misleading the court.

In total, the SEC took action in 715 cases, including 405 independent actions ranging across a range of categories including securities offerings, insider trading, market manipulation and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Of the $4.68 million obtained by the SEC, $600 million was returned to investor victims.

This year, securities offerings led all other categories with 130 (30.2%) independent actions taken by the SEC.

Notably, the SEC’s whistleblower program was heralded as a “critical component of the Commission’s efforts to detect wrongdoing and protect investors in the marketplace,” with 39 individuals receiving a total of $175 million in awards. Three weeks ago, the SEC awarded $114 million to a single whistleblower.