Newspaper article The Canadian Press

SEC Sues Kik for US$100M for 'Illegal' Securities Offering of Digital Tokens

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

SEC Sues Kik for US$100M for 'Illegal' Securities Offering of Digital Tokens

Article excerpt

SEC sues Kik over 'illegal' digital token sale

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has sued Ontario-based Kik Interactive Inc. for conducting an "illegal" US$100 million securities offering of digital tokens.

The securities regulator said in a complaint filed Tuesday that the Kitchener-based company sold the tokens to U.S. investors in 2017 without registering their offer and sale, or providing proper disclosure, as required by U.S. securities laws. The SEC said this constituted an initial coin offering, or ICO.

Kik's chief executive Ted Livingston said in a tweet containing a link to the SEC's announcement that the company is "excited" to take on the U.S. regulator in court and is "confident" it will win.

In an emailed statement, he said: "This is the first time that we're finally on a path to getting the clarity we so desperately need as an industry to be able to continue to innovate and build."

The SEC alleges in its complaint that Kik lost money "for years" on its main product, an instant messaging platform called Kik Messenger, and it sought to raise money for a new type of business by selling digital tokens.

The regulator says from May to September 2017, Kik offered and sold one trillion digital tokens called Kin for approximately US$100 million to more than 10,000 investors, of which US$55 million came from U.S. based buyers.

Investors based in Canada, however, were barred from buying Kin after what Kik called "weak guidance" from the Ontario Securities Commission.

"Despite our best efforts to work with the OSC, they have failed to give us clear direction on when Canadian securities law will or, more importantly, will not apply," Livingston said in a 2017 blog post. "Our Kin project needs to move forward, so to avoid risks arising from this uncertainty, we, a Canadian company, have decided to move forward without Canada."

The SEC alleges that Kik marketed the tokens as an investment opportunity and told investors that rising demand would drive up the value of Kin. …

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