Cryptocurrency lending company Nexo has been sanctioned by the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) for offering and selling unregistered securities, as part of regulators’ latest effort to crack down on the crypto industry. Announced through an SEC press release on Jan. 19, Nexo was fined $45 million for failing to register the listing and sale of a cryptocurrency lending product, Earn Interest Product (EIP), which promised returns on deposited crypto.
According to the SEC’s order, Nexo began offering the EIP around June 2020 and marketed the product as a means for investors to earn interest on their crypto assets. The agency alleges that Nexo has used its investors’ crypto assets in a variety of ways, including to fund interest payments to EIP investors and to generate revenue for its own company. The order classifies the EIP as a security and found that Nexo had not registered the product as such with the SEC.
“We accused Nexo of failing to register its retail crypto lending product before offering it to the public, circumventing essential disclosure requirements designed to protect investors,” said SEC Chairman Gary Gensler. “Compliance with our proven government policies is not a choice. Where crypto companies fail to comply, we will continue to follow the facts and the law to hold them accountable.”
While Nexo has not admitted error or denied the SEC’s findings, the company has agreed to pay a $22.5 million fine to the SEC and will no longer offer the EIP to U.S. investors, in addition to phasing out all products and services it offers in the United States. Nexo will also pay an additional $22.5 million in fines to settle similar charges brought by government regulators.
BlockFi was fined $100 million last year for similar charges related to its interest rate program
“We are pleased with this unified resolution that unequivocally puts an end to all speculation surrounding Nexo’s relations with the United States,” said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of Nexo in a statement. “We can now focus on what we do best: building seamless financial solutions for our global audience.”