The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today suspended the trading in 379 dormant shell companies. This is the most trading suspensions in a single day in the history of the SEC. The trading suspensions are part of an SEC initiative tabbed Operation Shell-Expel by the SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group. Each of the companies was a dormant shell that was lacking any and all public disclosures. That is, each of the companies failed to have adequate current public information available either through the news service on OTC Markets or filed with the SEC via EDGAR.
The federal securities laws allow the SEC to suspend trading in any stock for up to 10 business days. Once a company is suspended from trading, it cannot be quoted again until it provides updated information including complete disclosure of its business and accurate financial statements. In addition to providing the necessary information, to begin to trade again, a company must enlist a market maker to file a new 15c2-11 application with FINRA. For a Company with a trading suspension this is a difficult process. Many market makers are unwilling to take on the assignment and when they do, the comment process with FINRA can be lengthy. Moreover, even if a 211 application is approved by FINRA, DTC may still refuse to qualify the security for electronic trading.
I expect that the SEC is not finished sending its very loud message that companies without current information will not be allowed to trade. Just as when the SEC first began suspending the trading of delinquent filers, I believe this is the first in many sweeping trading suspensions of shell companies.
The message is clear; either have current information available on OTC Markets or become a reporting entity on EDGAR, and remain current in your reporting obligations, or face a trading suspension.
Attorney Laura Anthony,
Founding Partner, Legal & Compliance, LLC
Securities, Reverse Mergers, Corporate Transactions
Securities attorney Laura Anthony provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and mid-size public Companies as well as private Companies intending to go public on the over the counter market including the OTCBB and OTCQB. For almost two decades Ms. Anthony has dedicated her securities law practice towards being “the big firm alternative.” Clients receive fast and efficient cutting-edge legal service without the inherent delays and unnecessary expense of “partner-heavy” securities law firms.
Ms. Anthony’s focus includes but is not limited to crowdfunding, registration statements, PIPE transactions, private placements, reverse mergers, and compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 including Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K and the proxy requirements of Section 14. Moreover, Ms. Anthony represents both target and acquiring companies in reverse mergers and forward mergers, including preparation of deal documents such as Merger Agreements, Stock Purchase Agreements, Asset Purchase Agreements and Reorganization Agreements. Ms. Anthony prepares the necessary documentation and assists in completing the requirements of federal and state securities laws and SRO’s such as FINRA and DTC for corporate changes such as name changes, reverse and forward splits and change of domicile.
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