A Chinese healthcare firm has reportedly raised 120 million yuan ($18 million) by issuing a custom cryptocurrency, despite China’s 2017 ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs).
According to an Investor China report on Monday, the company involved – called Zhaoyun Group and apparently based in Hangzhou – focuses on the healthcare and scientific research industry.
While the company’s official website does not include any information about an ICO, posts on social networks and forums indicate that the company launched a token sale on April 8.
According to the posts, Zhaoyun Group targeted the issuance of 170 million of its own ERC-20-based (an Ethereum standard) tokens, dubbed Trillion Cloud Gold (TGCG), 10 percent of which were sold through a public offering.
Data from etherscan.io, the website that tracks transactions on the Ethereum blockchain, shows that all the tokens were created in mid-March 2018, but that no transactions were made thereafter.
Through conversations with promotors in the token sale’s WeChat groups, the report indicated that the public offering raised the $18 million through a tiered distribution system wherein members receive a return on their investment by attracting additional investors to purchase the token.
The report went on to call the firm’s conduct “questionable,” given that it could have violated China’s notable ban on ICOs, while the firm’s business model appears to “very similar” those seen in pyramid and Ponzi schemes.
The reported ICO comes at a time when Chinese authorities have stepped up its efforts in cracking down on crypto-related fundraising activities, as well as on those that use the concept to fleece investors through pyramid schemes, as previously reported by CoinDesk.
At press time, Zhaoyun Group had not responded to a CoinDesk request for comment.