04 April, 2018
Sharma and Farkas masterminded a scheme to offer a debit card backed by Visa and MasterCard that would allow users to easily convert crypto-assets into USA dollars or other currencies - but it was all a "web of lies", said Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. Both individuals told potential investors that the company was working on a Visa and MasterCard-backed debit card that would covertly cryptocurrencies into USA dollars, but SEC has alleges that the company wasn't actually working with either of those companies.
"The claims that Sharma and Farkas made to help secure these investments, however, were false". Earlier this year it took action against AriseBank which it alleged raised $600 million.
The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY today has announced criminal charges against Sharma and Farkas in separate proceedings. The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, return of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus interest and penalties, as well as bars the two from serving as public company officers or directors and from participating in any offering of digital or other securities.
"Mr. Sharma and Mr. Farkas are represented by personal counsel who will be handling the matters", a statement released by their attorney said.
The complaint said that both Sharma and Farkas were arrested on April 1, after the company's bank accounts had been cleaned out; Farkas, incidentally, was attempting to board a flight leaving the country. The SEC tells us this was not the case as Centra had no relationship with either credit card company.
" The charges, filed in NY, also say the pair "claimed that funds raised in the ICO would help build a suite of financial products", such as debit cards that would allow users to instantly convert hard-to-spend cryptocurrencies into legal tender".
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The two co-founders have been charged with violating the registration provisions and also violating the anti-fraud laws of the federal securities law.
The use of celebrities, particularly Mayweather, was also noted by the SEC, which added that the defendants "relied heavily on celebrity endorsements and social media to market their scheme". It was also endorsed by professional boxer Floyd Mayweather and producer DJ Khaled.
Following its own investigation, Business Insider in November reported it had similarly found multiple fake executive profiles.
Mayweather Tweeted out this message to his followers on the launch of the CTR ICO.
Since then 80 subpoenas and more information requests have been issued to cryptocurrency companies and advisors launching ICO's as part of an ongoing probe into the digital currency market.