Founders of Centra Tech’s Floyd Mayweather-Endorsed ICO Indicted for Securities Fraud

Jordana Sacks
  • ​​​​The three co-founders of crypto firm Centra Tech have been indicted by a grand jury.
  • Raymond Trapani, Sohrab Sharma, and Robert Farkas all stand accused of attempted fraud.

Monday was a busy day for Centra Tech founders Raymond Trapani, Sohrab Sharma and Robert Farkas, who each found themselves indicted by a grand jury following accusations of attempted theft.

According to the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the three men were allegedly planning to defraud their investors through a sale of the company’s tokens.

Following investigations, US Attorney Robert Khuzami revealed that authorities had recovered in excess of $60 million in funds from the three co-founders.

Trapani, Sharma, and Farkas have thus been charged with counts of conspiracy, the commission of securities, and wire fraud.

According to a statement released by The United States Attorney’s Office, Mr Khuzami said that the three men created: “a scheme to induce victims to invest millions of dollars’ worth of digital funds for the purpose of unregistered securities, in the form of digital currency tokens issued by Centra Tech.”

In addition to this, it is claimed that Trapani, Sharma, and Farkas also withheld important information regarding, in particular, the start-up’s claims about ties to payments companies, and in doing so, knowingly misled investors.

The token sale in question gained a large amount of attention following its endorsement by heavyweight boxer Floyd Mayweather, who claimed to have worked with Visa and Mastercard to create certain financial products. According to the SEC, however, such partnerships never actually existed.

The charges against the co-founders were first revealed in April 2018, when the US Securities and Exchange Commission initially filed fraud charges against Sharma and Farkas, before the Department of Justice made a case for criminal charges against all three of the men involved.

Sharma, Farkas, and Trapano are currently in custody pending further action from the courts.

Global Task Force, U.S. Tax Agency, SEC Dominate Crypto Headlines

Regulations are ruling the crypto headlines so far this week. Over the past 24 hours, we’ve learnt the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is reportedly set to finalize new international standards for regulating cryptocurrency firms next month. The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has stated his agency has “made it a priority” to issue more comprehensive crypto tax guidance “soon.” Finally, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it would delay, once again, its decision on the VanEck and SolidX Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal.

At the time of writing, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) are trading at $7,945.4 and $252.9; a 0.54% and 0.83% jump over the past 24 hours, respectively. As for the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index, it is currently tracking at 3,822.7 (-0.6%).

Global Standards for Regulating Crypto Firms Next Month

According to reports from CoinDesk, the FATF is set to finalize new international standards for regulating cryptocurrency firms next month. These standards, they report, are widely expected to subject crypto exchanges, wallet providers, and other businesses to the “travel rule” – a colloquial term given to a rule found in the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) that requires all financial institutions to pass on certain information to the next financial institution, in certain funds transmittals involving more than one financial institution.

Introduced in 1996 in the U.S., the “travel rule” is designed to help law enforcement agencies detect, investigate, and prosecute money laundering and other financial crimes by preserving an information trail about persons sending and receiving funds through funds transfer systems. The arrival of such international standards would go beyond the basic know-your-customer requirements that are widely enforced in the crypto space at present.

IRS Commissioner: More Detailed Crypto Tax Guidance ‘A Priority’

According to letter from IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig dated May 16, the agency has “made it a priority” to issue a more comprehensive tax guidance for cryptocurrencies. The Commissioner’s letter was written in response to a request from 21 Congressmen to provide clarity on tax treatment in relation to cryptocurrency holdings.

In 2014, the U.S. tax agency issued a guidance for cryptocurrency. In his May 16 response letter, Rettig revealed the IRS will “soon” issue more robust guidance. “I share your belief that taxpayers deserve clarity on basic issues related to the taxation of virtual currency transactions,” the Commissioner wrote.

SEC Delays Decision on VanEck SolidX Bitcoin ETF

The SEC announced the postponement of a decision regarding the VanEck SolidX bitcoin ETF proposal. The postponed ETF proposal was initially filed over a year ago. In January – amid the U.S. Government shutdown – it was withdrawn, only to be resubmitted later that month. On March 29, the commission delayed the joint proposal for the first time. The SEC must announce its decision – or, for the final possible time, postpone its decision – on the proposed bitcoin ETF no later than August 19.

Notably, the U.S. investor watchdog is seeking comments from the public in relation to the proposed VanEck SolidX bitcoin ETF. To guide commentary, they included fourteen questions in Monday’s filing. Comments must be submitted within the following 21 days, whilst rebuttals to said comments are due within the next 35 days.