SEC Proposes to Amend Rule 15c2-11
On September 26, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced proposed amendments to its Rule 15c2-11 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange act”. The purpose of Rule 15c2-11 is to establish requirements that must be met by broker-dealers before they can publish quotations for securities in the over-the-counter (OTC) known as the OTC Markets. Issuers that are not compliant with Rule 15c2-11 will be relegated to the Grey Market until compliance is regained. OTC Markets companies wishing to achieve or regain compliance must do so by locating a broker-dealer willing to sponsor them. The broker-dealer, using information supplied by the issuer, will file a Form 211 with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA will process the filing; it may request clarification or additional information until it’s satisfied. Form 211 is commonly used by smaller issuers after a Form S-1 registration statement has been filed with the SEC as part of a going public transaction.
In addition to their new rule allowing companies to “test the water“, the SEC has announced another new rule regarding Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). The SEC says they are modernizing the regulation of ETFs “by establishing a clear and consistent framework for the vast majority of ETFs operating today.”
After the election of 2016, a lot was made of “fake news” and Facebook’s role in spreading it. Part of this large controversy involved the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which was run by Steve Bannon. Cambridge Analytica used the data of 87 million in violation of Facebook’s policy, and used that data to its own ends.
Jan Atlas, a 74-year old attorney based in Ft. Lauderdale was charged on September 17, 2019, with “one count of securities fraud, in violation of Title 15, United States Code, Sections 77q(a) and 77x, in Case No. 19CR60258. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Beth F. Bloom in Fort Lauderdale. If convicted, Atlas faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.”
According to Forbes, Bill Hinman partook in a fireside chat at Cardozo Law School this week, where he “covered a range of topics related to the regulation of digital securities.” Hinman told Cardozo that the SEC continues to examine their approach to digital securities, and how current securities law should apply to cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
The SEC has just adopted Securities Act Rule 163B, which will allow all issuers to “gauge market interest in a possible initial public offering or other registered securities offering through discussions with certain institutional investors prior to, or following, the filing of a registration statement.” Previously, only emerging growth companies, or EGCs, were allowed this opportunity.
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said “Investors and companies alike will benefit from test-the-waters communications, including increasing the likelihood of successful public securities offerings.” Read More
Ross Mandell was the founder of Sky Capital Holdings, Ltd., a venture capital firm and brokerage. He is currently serving a 12 year sentence for defrauding investors of over $100 million from 2001 to 2006. His case was complicated because the vast majority of his dealings was with U.K. investors, and not U.S. investors, and the applicable law was not entirely clear over whether it was “extraterritorial”. George Conway, who is the husband of the famous Kellyanne, wrote an amicus brief with the Bar of the City of New York on behalf of Mandell’s case, writing that the law did not justify charging Mandell’s U.K. actions. The court disagreed however. You can read more about this here.
The SEC announced on August 29, 2019, that they have rewarded $1.8 million to a whistleblower “whose information and assistance were critically important to the success of an enforcement action involving misconduct committed overseas.” Read More
According to Newsweek, the Trump administration is currently “preparing a complete ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid a rising number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths, but officials are leaving out a key part of the problem: marijuana products.” Whether Newsweek is right that marijuana products are a part of the problem or not, it is interesting to note how it is being left out. As they point out, “Marijuana is illegal under federal law, which makes it impossible for Congress or the FDA to pass any regulations around its use or sale, as they have with e-cigarettes and tobacco products. This means that there is no federal oversight when it comes to the manufacturing and sale of CBD and other cannabis derivatives. As a result, Trump administration’s ban is not expected to have a huge impact on the current marijuana industry, but it could push lawmakers to consider legalizing marijuana so as to ensure consumer safety.” Read More