The SEC’s trading suspension order says that two August 2018 press releases issued by Nevada-based American Retail Group, Inc. (OTC: ARGB) aka Simex, Inc. claimed that the company had partnered with an SEC qualified custodian for use with cryptocurrency transactions that would be “under SEC Regulations,” and that the company was conducting a token offering that was “officially registered in accordance [with] SEC requirements.”

Earlier this month, the SEC issued an investor alert that warned investors to be vigilant for false claims about SEC endorsements used to promote digital asset investments.

Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit
Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit

“The SEC does not endorse or qualify custodians for cryptocurrency, and investors should use vigilance when considering an investment in an initial coin offering,” said Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit.

Under the federal securities laws, the SEC can suspend trading in a stock for 10 days and generally prohibit a broker-dealer from soliciting investors to buy or sell the stock again until certain reporting requirements are met.

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has issued an Investor Bulletin on initial coin offerings and a mock ICO website to educate investors.  Additional information about ICOs is available on Investor.gov and SEC.gov/ICO.

The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.