Overstock Defends tZero ICO: SEC Subpoenaed 'Everyone Else'

Overstock is pushing back against the idea an inquiry into its tZero ICO is part of a broader SEC effort to crackdown on poor industry practices.

AccessTimeIconMar 1, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:37 a.m. UTC
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The president of Overstock's tZero subsidiary has one simple message to convey: "We have not received a subpoena."

Since public documents Thursday revealed the e-commerce giant's efforts to raise funding via an initial coin offering (ICO) had drawn scrutiny from the SEC's Division of Enforcement, Joseph Cammarata has been speaking out, seeking to put forth the message that Overstock is "willingly working" with regulators.

The documents, published this morning on the SEC's website, describe an investigation that's looking into whether federal securities laws were violated as part of the company's $250 million initial coin offering.

Coming just a day after it was first reported that a "wave of subpoenas" had been issued by the SEC as part of a broad investigation into ICOs, Cammarata's statements are notable in that they position the company as outside of this effort.

In interview, Cammarata sought to further distinguish the Overstock investigation from the SEC's work with other ICOs, explaining how a series of other decisions the company had made resulted in the different dynamic.

He told CoinDesk:

"They subpoenaed everybody else and asked us to cooperate."

The reason for this distinction, according to Cammarata, goes back to a conversation the regulator had had with executives at Overstock about the company's decision to file the token issuance as a Reg. D exemption according to SEC guidance.

Contrary to many other ICOs that have been notoriously opaque regarding their ICOs and how the founders spend the money, filing under the Reg D exemption means an increased level of transparency is built into the process.

However, the fact that the investigation was being conducted by the Division of Enforcement is also notable, as the division is involved in investigations generally only after the regulator identifies more concrete concerns.

The SEC declined to comment on our request to confirm that the Division of Enforcement was overseeing the investigation, and referred us to the publicly available documents.

Still, for Cammarata, the decision to list the firm's blockchain securities on an ATS makes the offering materially different than others that aren't operating with regulatory clarity.

"We're thrilled that the SEC is investigating these things," he said.

Overstock image via Shutterstock


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