OTC Markets Stock Promotion Policy
Posted by Laura Anthony, Esq. on January 17, 2018
OTC Markets Stock Promotion Policy- As OTC Markets Group continues to position itself as a respected venture trading platform, it has adopted a new stock promotion policy and best practices guidelines to improve investor transparency and address concerns over fraudulent or improper stock promotion campaigns. The stock promotion policy and best practices guidelines are designed to assist companies with responsible investor relations and to address problematic issues. Recognizing that fraudulent stock promotion is a systemic problem requiring an all-fronts effort by industry participants and regulators, the new policy focuses on transparency and disclosure of current information, and the correction of false statements or materially misleading information issued by third parties.
For several years, OTC Markets Group has been delineating companies with a skull-and-crossbones sign where they have raised concerns such as improper or misleading disclosures, spam campaigns, questionable stock promotion, investigation of fraudulent or other criminal activity, regulatory suspensions or disruptive corporate actions. While labeled with a skull and crossbones, a company that does not have current information or is not on the OTCQB or OTCQX will have its quote blocked on the OTC Markets website.
The new policy addresses: (i) publicly identifying securities being promoted; (ii) identifying fraudulent promotional campaigns; (iii) responsibilities of companies with promoted securities; (iv) the impact on OTCQX or OTCQB designations; (v) caveat emptor policy and stock promotion; and (vi) regulatory referrals. This Lawcast series summarizes both the new stock promotion policy and best practices guidelines.
The basic premise behind OTC Markets Group policy on stock promotion is the timely disclosure of material information, which includes the duty to dispel unfounded rumors, misinformation or false statements. Technology has increased the ability for companies, insiders and third parties to engage in improper and manipulative activities, including through spam campaigns, and anonymous social networks and message groups.
A company that is the subject of an active campaign or has a history of stock promotion may be denied an application for trading on the OTCQB or OTCQX. A company may be removed from the OTCQB or OTCQX, upon the sole discretion of OTC Markets Group, if it is involved in an active campaign involving misleading information or manipulative promotion. Furthermore, promotional activity of a shell company will result in the immediate removal from OTCQB (shells are not permitted on OTCQX). OTC Markets Group will continue to use the caveat emptor skull-and-crossbones designations as well. Where appropriate, OTC Markets Group will refer a company to the SEC, FINRA or other regulatory agency for investigation.