Category: Strict Liability
Registered Investment Advisor Agrees to Settle Charges of Failing to Clearly Disclose Transaction Costs Beyond “Wrap Fees” to Investors
On July 14, 2016, RiverFront Investment Group, LLC (“RiverFront”) agreed to settle charges brought by the SEC for failing to “properly prepare clients for additional transaction costs beyond the ‘wrap fees’ they pay to cover the cost of several services bundles together.” Press Release No. 2016-143. According to the SEC, participants in wrap fee programs usually pay an annual fee “which is intended to cover the cost of several services ‘wrapped’ together, such as custody, trade execution, portfolio management, and back office services.” Release No. 4453. The SEC found that under these wrap programs, a sponsoring firm will offer clients a selection of third-party managers, referred to as subadvisors, to have discretion over the clients’ investment decisions. When subadvisors execute trades on behalf of clients through a sponsor-designated broker-dealer, the transaction costs associated with the trades are included in the … Read More »
Last year, we predicted that the SEC would increase its use of administrative proceedings to enforce strict liability violations such as books and records and internal controls. See Mary P. Hansen & William L. Carr, The Future of SEC Enforcement Actions: Negligence Based Charges Brought in Administrative Proceedings, The Investment Lawyer, Vol. 21, No. 9 (September 2014). In a recent action, announced on April 1, 2015, the SEC did just that.
According to the SEC, Timothy Edwin Scronce, the majority owner and CEO of privately held TelWorx Communications, LLC (“TelWorx”), falsified TelWorx’s books to inflate its revenues leading up to and after the acquisition of TelWorx by a public company, PCTEL, Inc. (“PCTEL”). Exchange Act Rel. No. 74626 (Apr. 1, 2015). In particular, prior to the acquisition, Scronce directed TelWorx’s Controller, Michael Hedrick, to inflate the value of certain inventory and … Read More »
The SEC announced last week that it had charged, in settled administrative proceedings, 28 individuals and investment firms that failed to “promptly report information about their holdings and transactions in company stock” and six public companies that contributed to “filing failures by insiders or fail[ed] to report their insiders’ filing delinquencies.” See SEC Press Release: “SEC Announces Charges Against Corporate Insiders for Violating Laws Requiring Prompt Reporting of Transactions and Holdings.” The SEC obtained a total of $2.6 million in civil monetary penalties as a result of the filed charges. The individual amounts ranged from $25,000 to $150,000. These cases are the latest example of the SEC’s focus on strict liability violations of the federal securities laws.
All of the charges arise under Sections 13(d), 13(g), and 16(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These sections require certain forms to … Read More »