Australia's Securities Watchdog Airs Concerns About Overseas ICOs

ASIC is to extend its guidelines on initial coin offerings over concerns about overseas projects targeting local investors.

AccessTimeIconApr 27, 2018 at 2:05 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:53 a.m. UTC
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Australia's securities watchdog has revealed plans to extend existing guidelines for initial coin offerings (ICOs).

In a speech at a fintech event in Sydney on Thursday, John Price, a commissioner of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), told the audience to expect updates that will focus overseas ICO fundraising projects targeting the country's investors.

"We will highlight that Australian corporate and consumer law might apply – even if an ICO is created and offered from overseas. This is an important point given the international nature of this sector," Price said during the event.

The remarks stem from concerns over the current perception that ICOs can bypass the regulator's oversight by registering overseas.

"I cannot stress enough that if you are doing business here and selling something to Australians – including issuing securities or tokens to Australian consumers – our laws here can apply," Price said.

ASIC first issued formal guidance for ICOs in September 2017, seeking to define the circumstances in which tokens should be treated as financial products and hence regulated by Australia's Corporate Act 2001.

Price said, however, that the regulator still has concerns over the emerging space's low threshold for immature businesses to enter, which drives a "certain level of opportunism."

The commissioner stated:

"The stories that come out about these businesses are, and will continue to have, a negative impact on investor confidence over time."

Australian dollar image via Shutterstock

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