Swiss Finance Regulator Is 'Investigating ICO Procedures'

Switzerland’s financial regulatory agency is investigating initial coin offerings to determine whether they follow banking and securities laws.

AccessTimeIconSep 29, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:59 a.m. UTC

Switzerland’s top financial markets regulator is investigating the practices behind an undisclosed number of initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Though it didn't name any specific token sales, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority said today that it is examining "a number of ICO cases to determine whether regulatory provisions have been breached."

Specifically, the regulator wants to see whether organizers of ICOs, who sell cryptographic tokens in a bid to bootstrap blockchain networks, have violated any laws around anti-money laundering, securities or collective investment schemes.

FINMA said:

"Given the close resemblance, in some respects, between ICOs/token-generating events and conventional financial-market transactions, one or more aspects of financial market law may already cover ICO campaigns according to their various models. FINMA is currently looking into a number of different cases."

That the agency would begin investigating the funding use case in Switzerland is perhaps unsurprising, given the growing number of regulators that have undertaken such actions in recent months. For example, South Korea's government unveiled new measures today to restrict ICOs, stating that token sales run afoul of domestic capital market slaws. That move followed a similar crackdown in China earlier this month.

Yet how the situation in Switzerland will develop remains to be seen. According to FINMA, ICOs are not regulated under Swiss law because they do not have a third-party intermediary and are launched for one own’s platform. However, that does not mean ICOs are completely free from legal obligations, the agency added.

"Due to the underlying purpose and specific characteristics of ICOs, various links to current regulatory law may exist depending on the structure of the services provided," FINMA wrote.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.