UK Financial Watchdog Warns against Three Unauthorised Crypto Companies

Two of the companies’ websites look strangely alike, while the third one is using the name of major asset management company BlackRock.

UK’s financial services providers watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has added three crypto-related firms to its warning list of dodgy companies operating without a proper license.

The series of warnings from the past several days include Local Bitcoin Ltd, BK Coin and BlackRock Crypto Asset Management Limited.

According to FCA, neither Local Bitcoin, nor BK Coin have the proper authorization to provide financial services in the UK, but the watchdog believes they have been doing so.

Local Bitcoin, which claims to be based in Northumberland, has an oddly similar name to that of the popular peer-to-peer crypto exchange Local Bitcoins, but obviously has nothing do with it. Instead, according to the Local Bitcoin website, it offers investment in cryptocurrencies and claims to have over 260,000 clients. It also says it operates in accordance with European regulations and keeps client funds in major European banks.

BK Coin’s website looks strangely similar to that of Local Bitcoin – even the logos of the two are quite alike, and the information and the text are also fairly similar. The major difference is that BK Coin claims to be based in London.

The third crypto company on the FCA warning list, BlackRock Crypto Asset Management Limited, is a “clone firm” of the FCA-authorized BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited, which is the local branch of US-based global investment management corporation BlackRock Inc. The “clone firm” has in fact nothing to do with BlackRock, whose CEO Larry Fink recently said the company had assembled a working group on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but saw no huge demand for cryptocurrencies.

According to the UK companies register, the clone is based in London and was incorporated in February 2018 with a capital of £1,000, and is managed by Mark Wiseman. BlackRock Crypto Asset Management Limited allegedly offers activities related to investment trusts, open-ended investment companies, financial leasing and financial management – activities requiring FCA authorization. It has no active website.