Lithuania's Central Bank Probes 100 Million Euro ICO

Lithuania’s central bank announced last week that it is probing a domestic initial coin offering (ICO) after determining that the token offered counts as a security.

In a Feb. 15 statement, the Lietuvos Bankas said it had made contact with blockchain banking firm Bankera regarding its token sale, which was advertised on two websites and had already raised over 80 million euros. The ICO’s official website now claims it has raised more than 100 million euros in a sale that is scheduled to end next week.

Yet, based on information received, the central bank considers that the token sale constitutes an offering of securities under state law.

Lietuvos Bankas said:

“In addition, [the ICO] distributes its authorized [cryptocurrency] and has already attracted more than 80 million [euros]. Taking into account the features set out in the heading and based on the information provided by Bankera’s business plan, it is concluded that this ICO falls within the scope of the Law on Securities, i.e. is considered a public offer, and therefore must be executed in accordance with the established requirements.”

The institution suggested that it could take further action as a result of the probe, and concluded with a warning for those advertising token sales.

“The Bank of Lithuania also draws attention of other media to the requirements of legal acts regarding the dissemination and promotion of instruments possessing the features of securities, and recalls that the Law on Advertising prohibits the advertising of activities that violate the requirements of legal acts,” the central bank said.

The move comes months after Lithuania released guidance for the blockchain use case, being one of a number of institutions to do so last fall. That wave of statements followed a determination by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in July, at which time the regulator said that its securities rules would apply to some tokens sales.

Most recently, Switzerland’s financial regulator, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority, released new guidelines last week, indicating it will also treat some ICO tokens as securities.

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