The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced its first-ever enforcement action finding an investment company registration violation by a hedge fund manager based on its investments in digital assets.

The SEC entered an order finding that Crypto Asset Management LP (CAM) offered a fund that operated as an unregistered investment company while falsely marketing it as the “first regulated crypto asset fund in the United States.”  According to the SEC’s order, CAM, a California-based hedge fund manager, and its sole principal Timothy Enneking raised more than $3.6 million over a four-month period in late 2017 while falsely claiming that the fund was regulated by the SEC and had filed a registration statement with the agency.  By engaging in an unregistered non-exempt public offering and investing more than 40 percent of the fund’s assets in digital asset securities, CAM caused the fund to operate as an unregistered investment company.  After being contacted by the SEC staff, CAM ceased its public offering and offered buy backs to affected investors.

The SEC said Crypto Asset Management and founder Timothy Enneking illegally sold stakes in the hedge fund to U.S. investors. The fund’s assets peaked at $37 million in December, when valuations for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies reached their highest point.

Mr. Enneking, 59 years old, said he is  pioneer in running hedge funds that invest in cryptocurrencies. He is based in La Jolla, California. Crypto Asset Management originally raised $3.6 million from 44 U.S. investors, the SEC said.

 

In another action, the SEC charged the founders of TokenLot, a website that connected buyers with digital assets, broke the law by failing to register as a brokerage firm. To settle the investigation, TokenLot and its founders agreed to pay more than $560,000 in penalties without admitting or denying fault, the SEC said. Both of the founders, Lenny Kugel, 28, and Eli Lewitt, 27, agreed to be barred from the brokerage industry for at least three years. The SEC’s order didn’t accuse them of fraud, but said they violated laws requiring brokers to submit to SEC oversight and sell only regulated investments to the public. A lawyer for the men declined to comment.