SEC halts trading of Chinese blockchain company

SEC halts trading of Chinese blockchain company
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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday halted trading of shares of a Chinese blockchain technology company.

The SEC froze the purchase and sale of shares of UBI Blockchain Internet, a Chinese company that advertises blockchain programs and services. Blockchain is the distributed ledger system that serves as the foundation for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The SEC said it froze trading of UBI shares because of potentially inaccurate information the company filed in its disclosures to the agency and “recent, unusual and unexplained market activity” around UBI stock since November.

The trading suspension spans from 9:30 a.m. on Monday through 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Founded in 2010 as JA Energy, the company changed its name to reflect its blockchain operations in November 2016. UBI was one of several companies involved or allegedly involved in blockchain or cryptocurrency technology that investors flooded with cash last year.

Shares of UBI jumped from $7.20 on Dec. 8 to $87 on Dec. 18 as cryptocurrency prices and equities in blockchain companies skyrocketed. UBI stock fell back to $22 on Friday, the last day of trading before the SEC freeze.

Bloomberg reported on Dec. 27 that UBI registered to sell an additional 72.3 million shares owned by executives.

United States regulators have boosted their oversight and regulation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology companies as the mainstream finance world has begun to jump into those industries.

The SEC warned investors last week of rampant illegal trading in cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs), in which a company creates and sells a cryptocurrency to raise money.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission also announced last week that it will meet on Jan. 31 to discuss the trading of cryptocurrency futures contracts.

The agency says that its technology and risk advisory committees will meet to discuss the self-certification process for such derivative contracts, focusing on “oversight, surveillance, and monitoring” of listed cryptocurrency derivatives.