A major financial markets regulator in Kenya has warned investors to avoid an initial coin offering currently taking place in the country.
The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has said that the ICO being offered by Wiseman Talent Ventures, also known as Kenicoin, “have not yet been approved” by the body.
According to the Authority, members of the public are able to buy digital tokens from the firm which are currently being marketed at a price of 2,000 Kenyan shillings – which is equivalent to £15.40 British pounds or £19.66 US dollars.
It also alleges that Wiseman promises that investors will receive 10% returns on their investments each month.
In its statement warning members of the public away from the coin, the CMA also alluded to other potential red flags.
“Further, the Kenicoin value being marketed as exponentially rising since its initial offering poses substantive information asymmetry, liquidity and fraud risks”, it said.
“In a bid to protect investors, Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has cautioned the public against participating in any initial coin offering or trading in any coin exchange offered by Wiseman Talent Ventures.”
The Chief Executive of the CMA, Paul Muthaura, said that it was essential for the investing public to be aware that Wiseman Talent Ventures’ operations had not yet gone through the required channels.
“It is important for the general public to note that the nature and features of the Capital Raising and Coins Trading promoted by Wiseman Talent Ventures is taking the form of Regulated activities which have not yet been approved by the Authority”, Muthaura said.
He also said that the content posted on the Kenicoin website did not always match up with the information provided by Wiseman to the Authority – especially in the realm of finances.
“The Authority is currently investigating the operations of Wiseman Talent Ventures. We have noted discrepancies in the information provided on the firm’s website www.kenicoin.com and the information given to the Authority during interviews of Wiseman Talent Ventures leadership in relation to the total number of Kenicoin sold and the total funds raised”, Muthaura added.
In its statement, the CMA also outlined the state of the market for what it described as “unregulated digital currencies”, suggesting that it moves in cycles and that a “bust” was a risk.
“Global trends in unregulated digital currencies demonstrates that the cryptoasset market is uncertain and has experienced accelerated boom and bust cycles which may expose investors to substantial losses”, the statement read.
It also provided specific facts and figures. It pointed out that while by the end of 2017 Bitcoin’s price was US$19,783, it now stood at US$3,810.
The CMA is a long-established statutory agency in Kenya, which was setup in 1989.
Kenya has experienced problems of fraudulent and suspected crypto fraud before, however – meaning that the agency is kept busy.
At the end of 2017 during Bitcoin’s height, for example, police in the East African nation took three peer to peer Bitcoin brokers into custody after allegations that they used illegitimately derived money.