The annual “SEC Speaks” conference, in which Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) representatives review the agency’s efforts over the past year and preview the year to come, was held on February 22-23, 2013.
During the conference the SEC laid out the numerous items on its agenda for the year to come and beyond. The list included the careful implementation of the various titles of the JOBS Act, including Title II and Title III.
Title II of the JOBS Act provides that the SEC will amend Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Regulation D promulgated there under, to eliminate the prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in a Rule 506 offering, so long as all purchasers in such offering are accredited investors. Although on August 29, 2012 the SEC published proposed rules implementing Title II, those rules have been met with numerous comments and opposition and it is entirely unclear how the SEC shall proceed. The primary point of contention is how an Issuer will verify that an investor is accredited, and to what extent that verification process should be regulated. The SEC is likely to publish a new version of the proposed rule and set another public comment period before a final rule is adopted.
Title III of the JOBS Act is the Crowdfunding Act. The Crowdfunding Act amends Section 4 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the Securities Act) to create a new exemption to the registration requirements of Section 5 of the Securities Act. The new exemption allows Issuers to solicit “crowds” to sell up to $1 million in securities as long as no individual investment exceeds certain threshold amounts. In addition, the Crowdfunding Act requires that all crowdfunding offerings be conducted through an intermediary that is a broker dealer or funding portal that is registered with the SEC and a member of a registered self-regulatory organization (SRO). Currently that SRO is Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
The JOBS Act prohibits the funding portal from taking possession of funds or making investment recommendations. SEC speakers nonetheless indicated that they may revisit the rule on what constitutes “investment advice” so that portals can keep fraudulent dealers off their website without appearing to recommend any particular dealers. The SEC’s Trading and Markets Division and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) will both take on monitoring roles to ensure that start-up companies and their funding portals comply with this new regulatory framework.
During the SEC Speaks conference, SEC officials would not offer any insight as to the timing of the implementation of the new rules, other than that it is on their 2013 agenda. In addition, the SEC discussed its budgetary restraints and need for additional funding to complete the many tasks before it, leaving a feeling of even more uncertainty as to the rulemaking, especially the Crowdfunding portion which will require relatively significant SEC resources.
Securities attorney Laura Anthony and her experienced legal team provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and mid-size private companies, OTC and exchange traded issuers as well as private companies going public on the NASDAQ, NYSE MKT or over-the-counter market, such as the OTCQB and OTCQX. For nearly two decades Legal & Compliance, LLC has served clients providing fast, personalized, cutting-edge legal service. The firm’s reputation and relationships provide invaluable resources to clients including introductions to investment bankers, broker dealers, institutional investors and other strategic alliances. The firm’s focus includes, but is not limited to, compliance with the Securities Act of 1933 offer sale and registration requirements, including private placement transactions under Regulation D and Regulation S and PIPE Transactions as well as registration statements on Forms S-1, S-8 and S-4; compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including registration on Form 10, reporting on Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K, and 14C Information and 14A Proxy Statements; Regulation A/A+ offerings; all forms of going public transactions; mergers and acquisitions including both reverse mergers and forward mergers, ; applications to and compliance with the corporate governance requirements of securities exchanges including NASDAQ and NYSE MKT; crowdfunding; corporate; and general contract and business transactions. Moreover, Ms. Anthony and her firm represents both target and acquiring companies in reverse mergers and forward mergers, including the preparation of transaction documents such as merger agreements, share exchange agreements, stock purchase agreements, asset purchase agreements and reorganization agreements. Ms. Anthony’s legal team prepares the necessary documentation and assists in completing the requirements of federal and state securities laws and SROs such as FINRA and DTC for 15c2-11 applications, corporate name changes, reverse and forward splits and changes of domicile. Ms. Anthony is also the author of SecuritiesLawBlog.com, the OTC Market’s top source for industry news, and the producer and host of LawCast.com, the securities law network. In addition to many other major metropolitan areas, the firm currently represents clients in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Atlanta, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Denver, Tampa, Detroit and Dallas.
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