Crypto ExchangesEditor ChoiceGlobal NewsGovernmentPolicies & RegulationsTokenization

Hydrogen Technology and Former CEO Slapped with $2.8 Million Fine in SEC Lawsuit for Cryptocurrency Price Manipulation

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has won a lawsuit against Hydrogen Technology Corporation and its former CEO, Michael Ross Kane, who were accused of artificially inflating cryptocurrency prices.

A New York District Court Judge has ruled that Hydrogen Technology and Kane must pay $2.8 million in penalties and remedial action.

The amount includes $1.5 million in profits gained from the unlawful activity, a penalty of over $1 million, and prejudgment interest. In addition, Kane is required to pay an individual fine of approximately $260,000.

The SEC alleged that Kane manipulated the price and volume of Hydrogen Technology’s ERC-20 token, Hydro (HYDRO), by using the company’s market maker, Moonwalkers Trading Limited, in September 2022.

The SEC alleged that Kane and Tyler Ostern, the CEO of Moonwalkers Trading Limited, worked together to artificially inflate the market by creating a false appearance of robust market activity after Hydrogen’s Hydro tokens were distributed via airdrops, bounty programs, and direct-to-market sales in 2018.

Ostern settled the case for $41,000, while Kane and the firm were ordered by a New York District Court Judge to pay $2.8 million in remedies and civil penalties.

Kane has agreed to pay a personal fine of $260,000 and both he and the firm are barred from disputing the charges. They are also prohibited from selling additional cryptocurrency until the Hydro tokens pass the Howey test and receive approval from the SEC, although Kane can still participate in the wider cryptocurrency market for personal gain.

Gary Gensler Roasted by U.S House

Nevertheless, it is important to note that during his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler was confronted with criticism from House Republicans regarding his agency’s crackdown on cryptocurrency trading platforms.

Gensler stood by his stance that crypto exchanges and trading platforms should adhere to strict U.S. securities laws, emphasizing that his agency would continue to enforce them until companies come into compliance.

However, Republicans argued that the SEC’s disclosure rules, intended for traditional markets, are not suitable for decentralized digital currency exchanges, and warned that without new legislation specifically for crypto, digital platforms may move overseas to avoid U.S. regulators. They believe this could weaken the U.S.’s status as a cryptocurrency innovation hub and cede that position to other countries.

In fact, during the hearing, Committee Chairman Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., accused Gensler of causing American competitiveness to decline by driving innovation overseas through his approach.

McHenry criticized Gensler for punishing digital asset firms for allegedly not adhering to the law when they may not even be aware that the law applies to them. However, Gensler denied this accusation, claiming that the crypto industry understands the law, and if they provide exchange, broker dealer, or clearing services of crypto security tokens, they should comply.

“We have a whole field in crypto that understands the law, and if they are providing exchange services, broker dealer services, clearing services of crypto security tokens, they should come into compliance,” Gensler said in response to a similar point later in the hearing.

Morevover, throughout his testimony, Gensler declined to discuss the specifics of its investigation into the collapse of FTX, and more recently, its notice to Coinbase last month that the crypto exchange is under investigation.

The SEC has recently increased its enforcement of the crypto industry by targeting companies and projects that it claims are offering unregistered securities.

Gensler showed little sympathy for crypto exchanges operating in the U.S, stating that they are just intermediaries in the market who must come into compliance with the regulatory framework established over the past 90 years.

Despite the lack of legislation to regulate digital currencies this year, major crypto industry groups are planning to spend millions of dollars to lobby Congress and the Biden administration.

News Desk

Unlock News Desk, is a group of Blockchain and Crypto enthusiastic young people, working to keep Unlock readers up to date with the industry news. Connect with the team via email: info(@)

Related Articles

Back to top button