The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reportedly subpoenaed cryptocurrency lending firm Salt Lending, which uses crypto holdings as collateral against fiat currency loans, and ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees, over the lending firm’s initial coin offering (ICO), which raised $50 million last year.
Behind the subpoena, according to the Wall Street Journal, is an investigation the SEC launched to figure out whether the startup’s tokens can be considered noncompliant securities, as it wasn’t registered with the SEC at the time of the offering. The regulator is also probing whether Salt “insiders” received tokens, and how the funds were used.
The WSJ’s report cites anonymous sources “familiar with the probe.” According to them, Voorhees is involved as he was listed as a “director” of the company before it held its token sale last year.
Notably, the report points out Voorhees has in the past been investigated by the SEC, as in 2014 the entrepreneur, in the SEC’s eyes, publicly offered unregistered securities. In the aftermath of that case, Voorhees was fined $50,000 and barred from making a crypto-related securities offerings in the next five years.
The WSJ’s sources seemingly suggested the regulator’s probe is partly analyzing whether Voorhees violated the ban. The entrepreneur’s attorney, Brian Klein, tweeted in response to the article, calling it an “unfair attack.”
I am proud to represent @ErikVoorhees, a real visionary, who has abided by his SEC settlement terms. This @WSJ story is an unfair attack on him relying on unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous sources, and he is not even a party to the lawsuit discussedhttps://t.co/ouoB3ghTAb— Brian Klein (@brianeklein) November 16, 2018
Speaking to the prominent publication Jennifer Nealson, a Salt executive, confirmed the firm was subpoenaed by the SEC back in February of this year, but clarified Voorhees was merely an “early contributor” who “no longer serves in any formal capacity.”
Various sources have further pointed out Salt Lending is facing a private lawsuit in the state of Colorado, brought forth by one of its former financial officers who accused the company of benefitting insiders when handing out loans. The lawsuit appears to confirm the SEC’s subpoena.
Earlier this year, the WSJ also published a report that claimed ShapeShift was used by criminals to launder $9 million, out of a total of $88.6 million it claimed had been laundered using cryptocurrencies. Voorhees, as CryptoGlobe covered, hit back at the publication, claiming its report was “deceptive.”