In December 2017, at the peak of the era that many refer to as ‘crypto mania’, New York-based beverage maker ‘Long Island Ice Tea’ changed its name to “Long Blockchain Corp. At the time of the rebrand, the beverage maker said they would transition out of manufacturing beverages and focus their efforts on blockchain technology.
After the rebrand, shares of Long Blockchain Corp rocketed upward by more than 380% intraday–unfortunately, Long Blockchain Corp never transitioned into producing blockchain technologies; which is one of the reasons that three individuals connected to the company have just been charged with insider trading related to the Long Blockchain Corp stock.
Today, the SEC announced that they have charged three individuals–an undisclosed individual that works at Long Blockchain Corp, Cayman Island-based stockbroker Oliver Barret-Lindsay, and Gannon Giguiere–for insider trading Long Blockchain Corp.
The undisclosed individual leaked the information regarding Long Island Ice Tea’s rebrand to their friend and stockbroker, Oliver Barret-Lindsay; beyond giving Barret-Lindsay this information, the individual shared a draft of the company’s press release announcing the rebrand with Barret-Lindsay. Subsequently, Barret-Lindsay passed on the information he knew about Long Island Ice Tea to his friend Gannon Giguiere. Giguiere purchased 35,000 shares of Long Island Ice Tea after hearing the news. When Long Island Ice Tea officially made the announcement, its stock immediately soared, within two hours of the announcement, Giguiere sold his 35,000 shares in Long Blockchain Corp for a $160,000 profit.
This isn’t the first time that both Barret-Lindsay and Giguiere have been under investigation for a criminal matter related to equities trading, the two were previously charged due to their connection and the alleged role they played in a stock manipulation scheme–this case is currently in litigation.
Will history repeat itself?
This insider trading case from the SEC shows that it takes law enforcement officials some time to catch up with, and crackdown on, illicit actors. The Long Island Ice Tea/ Blockchain Corp incident happened almost 4 years ago, but regulators are just beginning to make a dent in the case.
During this market cycle, there were far fewer–if any–publicly traded companies that changed their names to take advantage of the popularity and interest around blockchain technologies and digital currency; however, there were individuals promoting blatant scams and fraudulent digital currency projects.
Financial regulators around the world are increasingly paying more attention to the blockchain and digital currency markets as they become more popular, and there is a good chance that this is not the last time we will see the SEC charge individuals associated with a blockchain or digital currency based company or scam.
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