US SEC says bitcoin funds raise ‘investor protection issues’

The US securities regulator asked whether investors could understand the risks and how to address concerns that bitcoin markets could be manipulated. (Reuters)
Updated 19 January 2018
0

US SEC says bitcoin funds raise ‘investor protection issues’

The US securities regulator on Thursday raised alarm about the safety of bitcoin-themed investments, telling the fund industry they want answers to their concerns before endorsing more than a dozen proposed products based on cryptocurrencies.
A top division chief at the US Securities and Exchange Commission detailed the agency’s concerns about the wild-trading investment in a letter to two trade groups representing fund managers who unleashed a range of proposals for funds holding bitcoin or related assets.
The SEC’s division of investment management demanded answers to at least 31 detailed questions about how mutual funds or exchange-traded funds based on bitcoin would store, safeguard, and price that asset.
They also asked whether investors could understand the risks and how to address concerns that bitcoin markets could be manipulated.
“There are a number of significant investor protection issues that need to be examined before sponsors begin offering these funds to investors,” said the letter signed by Dalia Blass, the SEC’s director of the division of investment management.
Bitcoin’s 1,500 percent surge last year stoked investor demand for any product with exposure to the red-hot asset. A host of companies are jostling to launch exchange-traded funds which would open up the cryptocurrency to a broad retail market.
The SEC in March denied a request to list an ETF from investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, owners of the Gemini bitcoin exchange.
The Winklevoss fund is seeking to invest in bitcoin directly. Other fund firms staked their hopes on recently launched US-listed bitcoin futures contracts, which promised a more stable base for ETFs than the largely unregulated virtual currency spot market. Many of those proposals were withdrawn last week at the request of the SEC.
Bitcoin was last down a fraction of a percent for the day at $11,228 on the Bitstamp exchange, but it has tumbled more than 40 percent from its peak in December.
Jeremy Senderowicz, a lawyer who represented one proposal for a cryptocurrency product before the SEC, said the SEC statement is a “really big deal” by making public concerns that fund managers would have had to address on a case-by-case basis, behind the scenes.
“It shows that they’re going to have to take some time to consider the industry’s responses before they change their minds on it,” said Senderowicz, a partner at Dechert LLP.
“It gives a template for how to get to a yes.”


Dubai regulators move against Abraaj Capital

Updated 17 August 2018
0

Dubai regulators move against Abraaj Capital

  • Dubai regulators have implemented a winding up order against Abraaj Capital stopping it from doing any new business in the emirate’s financial center
  • The DFSA said it has also stopped Abraaj Capital from moving funds to other parts of the group

DUBAI: Dubai regulators have moved against Abraaj Capital, the UAE arm of the beleaguered private equity group, implementing a winding up order against it and stopping it doing any new business in the emirate’s financial center.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority, the regulatory arm of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), announced the moves after the DIFC Courts earlier this month received a petition to wind up the troubled firm under UAE insolvency laws.

The court has appointed two liquidators from the accounting firm Deloitte to oversee the winding up order.

“The DFSA will continue to take all necessary actions within its remit to protect the interests of investors and the DIFC,” the regulator said in a statement.

 

The DFSA also said it has stopped Abraaj Capital from moving funds to other parts of the group.


The DFSA has been monitoring events at the company since the scandal at Abraaj broke in February, involving redirection of investment funds to purposes for which they were not intended.

Only a relatively small part of Abraaj’s operations fall under the remit of the DFSA. Most of its business and assets are located in the Cayman Islands, the domicile for its ultimate holding company Abraaj Holdings Limited (AHL) and its main operation business Abraaj Investment Management. The Cayman entities are also going through liquidation procedures.

The DFSA said: “Given the onset of financial difficulties of the wider Abraaj Group, the DFSA has been closely monitoring the activities of its regulated entity ACL. The DFSA has taken regulatory actions over the past few months in order to safeguard the interests of investors and the DIFC.

“Given such actions and the current matters surrounding the Abraaj Group, the DFSA continues to monitor the limited financial services activities currently being undertaken by ACL,” it added.

ACL was authorized to conduct various financial services from DIFC, including managing assets and fund administration, but restricted to funds established by the firm or members of its group.

It could also advise on financial products, arranging deals in investments, and arranging and advising on credit.

It is unprecedented for the DFSA to comment on a case while it is still under investigation, but the application in the DIFC Courts on Aug. 1 presented an opportunity to address investors and DIFC members who were concerned about the scandal, which some observers believe has been damaging for Dubai’s reputation as a regional financial hub.

FACTOID

The Dubai Financial Services Authority has been monitoring events at Abraaj since a scandal emerged involving redirection of investment funds to purposes for which they were not intended.