Bitcoin evangelist and entrepreneur Erik Voorhees has settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission for unregistered stock offerings in two Bitcoin-based companies he started and ran.
The SEC said Voorhees, 29, who lives in Panama City, Panama raised over 2,600 bitcoins, about $15,000 in 2012 for FeedZeBirds, a social media marketing company, and 50,6000 bitcoins, or $722,659, for SatoshiDICE, a gambling company.
Neither companies were registered and Voorhees openly solicited shares, denominated in Bitcoin, on the popular Bitcointalk forum. Voorhees also publicized the shares for FeedZeBirds on Facebook and FreedomPhoenix.com, a "general solicitation," that falls well outside the SEC's procedures for offering shares in a company.
"t I have entered into a settlement agreement with the SEC. With this matter resolved, I look forward to helping to build the Bitcoin industry and the future of finance," Voorhees said in a statement posted to Reddit.
He agreed to disgorge $15,800 worth of profits and pay a $35,000 penalty without admitting or denying the SEC's findings and agreed not to "participate in any issuance of any security in an unregistered transaction in exchange for any virtual currency including Bitcoin" for five years.
"All issuers selling securities to the public must comply with the registration provisions of the securities laws, including issuers who seek to raise funds using Bitcoin," the SEC's enforcement director Andrew Ceresney, said in a statement. "We will continue to focus on enforcing our rules and regulations as they apply to digital currencies."
Voorhees is a prominent bitcoin entrepreneur and and an active promoter of the virtual currency and libertarian politics online. "Bitcoin's value as money needs to be understood like gold, which comes not from legal force, but from its specific attributes. Bitcoin's attributes make it an amazing form of money and it was engineered for just that purpose," Voorhees said in a speech published on his blog.
In July 2013 Voorhees bought all SatoshiDICE shares for 45,5000 bitcoins, and the SEC says that thanks to the significant jump in price, investors received some $3.8 million, more than Voorhees raised. After the sale, Voorhees told Upstart that he was saving his Bitcoins "as capital for other entrepreneurial projects, of which there will be many as Bitcoin grows around the world," and the "last thing I would do with them is trade them for fiat toilet paper ;). "
At no point did Voorhees list or register the companies, and the SEC says that his use of the internet violated rules on the "direct or indirect sale of securities...through the mails or interstate commerce" without first registering with the SEC.
The price of bitcoin is $664, according to Coindesk, down from $770 at the beginning of the year.
FeedZeBirds solicitation on the Bitcoin Talk forum
This post has been updated with Voorhees's statement.
Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.
Contact Matthew Zeitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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