The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued a warning regarding the “collective investment scheme”(CIS) on 30 August. CIS includes digital tokens and initial coin offerings (ICO), not authorized under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO). As per the official statement,
“A CIS may not be offered to the public in Hong Kong without the SFC’s authorization”
This will make unauthorized ICOs an offense in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, licensed or registered intermediaries are allowed to sell authorized investment products, as per the circular.
However, SFC makes an exception and excludes professional investors from rules around unauthorized CIS. The regulator has also released a “Suspected Unauthorized CIS Alert List” urging investors to practice caution. The list will act as an early warning of suspected investments, such as digital tokens and initial coin offerings (ICO).
Reiterating that the list is not exhaustive, the regulator instructed investors to exercise due diligence or seek professional advice. In case of investment in overseas CIS, SFC pointed out that the domestic authorities might not be able to offer assistance.
The abovementioned circular has been released on the back of 20 cryptocurrency hacks reported by Slowmist in August alone. Bilaxy, an exchange headquartered in Hong Kong, suffered a hot wallet hack on 29 August, accounting for losses to the tune of $21 million. At press time, the SFC Alert List included the LABS Security Token, advising investors against investment in the asset.