New Virtual Currencies Hit Barriers in U.S. and 2 Other Nations

The agency said on Friday that Mr. Zaslavskiy had told investors that he had a team of lawyers, brokers and accountants working on the project when, in reality, “none had been hired or even consulted.”

The S.E.C.’s complaint, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, accused Mr. Zaslavskiy of fraud and asked for a freeze on his assets.

Mr. Zaslavskiy, a 38-year-old Brooklyn resident, could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the world of coin offerings, Mr. Zaslavskiy’s were small potatoes — the S.E.C. said REcoin, his real estate coin, had raised only around $300,000. The largest coin offerings have raised over $200 million.

But the charges on Friday suggest that the agency is serious about going after offenders.

South Korea took much stronger steps on Friday, banning coin offerings in the country after a similar move by China a few weeks ago.

Virtual currency trading has taken off in South Korea in recent months, and many entrepreneurs promoting coins have made trips to South Korea seeking investors.

The South Korean Financial Services Commission promised “stern penalties” for anyone who issues coins in the country. The authorities have already arrested people who have been involved in virtual currency operations that defrauded investors, the regulators said.

Until recently, Switzerland appeared to be a rare place where regulators were friendly to virtual currency businesses and coin offerings, leading many entrepreneurs to base their operations in the country. On Friday, though, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority announced that it was “investigating a number of I.C.O. cases to determine whether regulatory provisions have been breached.”

The Swiss agency echoed earlier statements from regulators in the United States, who said that at least some coins being sold should fall under regulations governing securities.

The agency said it would initiate “enforcement proceedings” if its current investigations turned up any coin offerings that had violated the rules.

The announcements pushed down the price of most virtual currencies on Friday.

But the scrutiny of the market has not stopped new entrepreneurs from planning their own coin offerings. Just in the next week, over two dozen projects are set to begin raising money, according to Token Data.

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