BY JONATHAN STEMPEL
A well-known proponent of the electronic currency bitcoin agreed to pay nearly $51,000 to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges that he publicly offered unregistered shares in two Internet ventures, the regulator said on Tuesday.
Erik Voorhees, 29, published prospectuses and solicited investors through the Bitcoin Forum website to buy shares in FeedZeBirds and SatoshiDICE, both of which he co-owned, without first registering the offerings as required under federal securities law, according to the SEC.
Voorhees is also a founder of Coinapult, which lets users transfer bitcoin via email or messaging service. The virtual currency is transacted independent of central control, and is not backed by any government or central bank.
“All issuers selling securities to the public must comply with the registration provisions of the securities laws, including issuers who seek to raise funds using bitcoin,” said Andrew Ceresney, head of the SEC enforcement division.
It also accused Voorhees of helping raise 50,600 bitcoins from August 2012 to February 2013 through the sale of 13 million shares of SatoshiDICE, a gaming website that pays out casino-like winnings in bitcoin.
SatoshiDICE was sold last July for more than $11 million, Voorhees said at the time.
According to the SEC, the value of bitcoin has fluctuated since Voorhees’ first unregistered offering from about $5 to $1,200 per bitcoin. (Reuters)