Ever get the feeling that the crypto party went too far? One minute everyone’s having fun, raising capital and launching ICO’s while the regulators aren’t home.
Then you wake up to December 2018, and the market’s a mess. There are crumpled white papers strewn all over the floor, and it looks like Civil took a giant refund all over the upstairs bathroom. The ashtrays are overflowing with unburned ERC-20 tokens, and there are a bunch of unaccredited investors passed out in the living room—and you have no idea who they are, because you didn’t KYC.
Jay and Hester are going to be home any minute—and if they catch you with one unregistered security, you’ll be grounded for eternity. With no phone.
Luckily, there are Crypto Janitors who can help. The service, launched by New York-based BX3 Capital, is designed to bring qualified projects into compliance with US securities regulations, and help them clean up before the SEC cracks down.
“We are using our expertise in legal, regulatory, tax, accounting, marketing disciplines to help fix GOOD projects that went astray after the fundraising boom of 2017,” says Michael Minihan, a partner at BX3. “Crypto Janitors, cleaning up crypto messes.”
For projects which are not in compliance—either because of an unregistered offering or misused funds—the Crypto Janitors at BX3 claim they can get rid of the wreckage and bring them within the accounting and registration requirements imposed by Federal Securities laws.
The new service comes at a time when the market is widely expecting a crackdown from government regulators. The Securities and Exchange Commission has settled cases with two ICOs for issuing unregistered securities, along with punitive actions against crypto exchanges and paid ICO promoters. Dozens of subpoenas were issued at the beginning of this year.
“It’s not just the SEC that should cause crypto CEOs to lose sleep at night,” adds co-founder Kyle Asman. “Investors who put their money into a project based on whitepaper promises likely have an arsenal of claims against the projects that did not do as they promised.”
The Janitors have definitely got their work cut out for them, with about 2,000 unregistered security offerings in dire need of their services.
“Our starting point on most (and, possibly all) of these [projects] is full non-compliance,” Minihan explained, over email. The Janitors start by assessing a projects’ funding, including who invested and how that money was spent. They then follow up on any missing steps, which can include bringing finances up-to-date, re-engaging investors, and pro-actively engaging the SEC with a curative plan.
“If you raised money in an ICO, you have a fiduciary duty to the people who gave you funding for your project,” Minihan says. “[I]f you haven’t properly accounted for those funds, or spent them in the way that you promised, there is a storm brewing—and it is headed directly for YOU. If you need to clean things up, now is your chance.”
But this chance might not last forever, and the SEC has shown that its patience is limited. Although the regulators’ recent actions with Airfox and Paragon indicate a legal path back to compliance, “we don’t expect that to last forever,” Minihan says.
That might sound like a gimmicky way to dress up what amounts to a humdrum suite of accounting and legal services, but you have to give the Janitors credit. In a frigid bear market with no end in sight, BX3 might be the only crypto company that can count on having plenty of business next year.
The author is not invested in any digital asset mentioned in this article, but owns other digital assets.