The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recently arrested the CEO of cryptocurrency platform ArisBank for allegedly defrauding investors out of $4 million, through an initial coin offering (ICO) based on false claims.
According to an announcement published by the US Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas, 30-year old Jared Rice Sr. swindled investors by claiming the firm, which he claimed to be the “world’s first decentralized bank,” offered FDIC-insured bank accounts and Visa-linked credit and debit cards. This, along with cryptocurrency-related services based on its own AriseCoin token.
Rice is now being charged with three counts of securities and fraud and three counts of wire fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) halted the project and froze its assets months ago, explaining AriseBank’s claims were false.
Per the Justice Department, the firm has in fact no partnership with Visa, isn’t authorized to conduct banking services in Texas, and is not FDIC insured. Rice himself was also accused of lying about raising $600 million in “just a few weeks” through the organization’s ICO, and is said to have spent raised funds for personal use on food, clothing, a family law attorney, and more.
In the announcement Erin Nealy Cox, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, was quoted as saying:
My office is committed to enforcing the rule of law in the cryptocurrency space. The Northern District of Texas will not tolerate this sort of flagrant deception – online or off.
AriseBank and AriseCoin were founded in June of last year, and were publicized through press releases, interviews, social media outlet, and on its own websites. Rice now faces up to 120 years in federal prison, according to the Attorney’s Office.
As pointed out by CoinDesk, Rice was sued back in January by the SEC, together with his co-founder Stanley Ford, for fraud and issuing unregistered securities. At the time, the Texas Department of Banking issued a cease-and-desist order against the firm.
Complaints from February show that Rice is currently on probation as part of a plea deal made after he was accused of theft and of tampering with government records. He’s also under felony indictment after allegedly assaulting a victim, and attempting to destroy evidence by stealing the victim’s phone to delete incriminating files.