Monday, April 15, 2024

SEC issues advisory against digital investment platform

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released a public advisory against an “interactive digital investment platform” called Pecado.

In its advisory, the SEC said Pecado, headed by its president named Eliseo Jojo Prisno, is enticing the public to invest in Pecado’s registered digital assets.

The regulatory agency noted that while Pecado’s mother firm Ashtree Block Ventures is a registered Investment Advisory Firm in the US, it is not registered with the SEC as a corporation or partnership in the Philippines.

“However, an entity named Ashtree Consultancy, Inc., an affiliate firm incorporated in the Philippines, holds a Service Contract Agreement to manage the back-office operations of Pecado. Based on the updated list of Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP), Pecado, Ashtree Consultancy, Inc. or Ashtree Block Ventures LLC are not registered VASPs with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and do not have a corresponding Certificate of Authority as a Money Service Business,” it said.

The agency said that operating or doing business in the Philippines requires prior registration or authorization with the concerned authorities and/or agencies.

“Even the BSP requires those engaged in online trading, digital assets and/or similar activities operating in the country to register in accordance with its guidelines,” the SEC said.

“Moreover, aside from operating as an exchange of digital assets, it is also acting as a broker of Philippine stocks traded at the Philippine Stock Exchange. In this regard, Section 8 of the Securities Regulation Code (SRC) requires that securities shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines without proper registration with the Commission,” it added.

Having no registration or license, Pecado, Ashtree Consultancy, or Ashtree Block Ventures are not allowed “to solicit, offer, accept or take investments/placements from the public or to issue securities, according to the SEC.

“The Commission warns those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents, representatives, promoters, recruiters, uplines, influencers, endorsers, abetters and enablers of Pecado, Ashtree Consultancy, Inc. or Ashtree Block Ventures LLC in soliciting or convincing people to invest in unregistered securities being offered by the said entity including soliciting investments or recruiting investors through the internet may be held criminally liable,” it warned.

“Furthermore, the names of all those involved will be reported to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) so that the appropriate penalties and/or taxes be correspondingly assessed.”

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