Another fraud prosecution involving cryptocurrencies ended in a guilty plea when a Texas man admitted lying to investors in his phony ICO.
The chief executive of blockchain startup AriseBank, Jared Rice, 31, told a Dallas judge he sought to defraud investors out of $4.2 million. Rice was arrested and indicted in November on three counts of securities fraud and three counts of wire fraud, and he is reportedly facing up to 20 years in jail.
Rice lied to his investors during AriseBank’s ICO when he claimed the startup would be “the world’s first decentralized cryptocurrency bank” that could offer consumers FDIC-insured bank accounts.
AriseBank marketed itself as a provider of a full-service alternative financial system that combines the strengths of conventional and decentralized banks, a blockchain exchange, and a gold depository.
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Details of AriseBank CEO’s Fraud
Last year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) halted AriseBank’s fast-moving initial coin offering that was seeking to raise up to $1 billion from thousands of investors.
Dallas-based AriseBank was ordered to stop its ICO and refund investor proceeds after the SEC released a report stating that it used social media, a celebrity endorsement, and other wide dissemination tactics to raise what it claims to be $600 million of its $1 billion goal in just two months.
The SEC obtained an emergency asset freeze against AriseBank and filed charges against its co-founders Jared Rice and Stanley Ford, alleging that they sold securities claiming that investments in AriseBank would bring “a first-of-its-kind decentralized bank offering a variety of consumer-facing banking products and services using more than 700 different virtual currencies.”
AriseBank falsely claimed that it had signed an agreement to buy the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insured bank, which has been in operation in the US for over a century. If it went well, the acquisition would give the crypto startup a full traditional banking license, as well as a global network of ATMs and debit cards. AriseBank also allegedly omitted to disclose the criminal background of key executives.
The Banking Commissioner of the state of Texas has also filed a non-appealable cease and desist order against AriseBank, as Finance Magnates reported in 2018.