The Commission is amending the recordkeeping obligations set forth in Commission regulations along with corresponding technical changes to certain provisions regarding retention of oral communications and record retention requirements applicable to swap dealers and major swap participants, respectively. The amendments modernize and make technology neutral the form and manner in which regulatory records must be kept, as well as rationalize the rule text for ease of understanding for those persons required to keep records pursuant to the Commodity Exchange Act and regulations promulgated by the Commission thereunder. The amendments do not alter any existing requirements regarding the types of regulatory records to be inspected, produced, and maintained set forth in other Commission regulations.
The SEC’s final crowdfunding rules, which are largely consistent with the proposed rules, provide broader access to capital for startups and small businesses, though concerns over cumbersome disclosure and regulatory requirements persist.
On October 30, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to adopt final rules implementing Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), known as “crowdfunding”. The final rules, to be codified as “Regulation Crowdfunding” in furtherance of Section 4(a)(6) of the Securities Act of 1933, are expected to become effective in May 2016. A copy of the final rules can be found here.
Regulation Crowdfunding will allow smaller, non-public U.S. companies to raise up to $1 million in any 12-month period by selling securities over the Internet (including through apps and other technologies) to individual investors who are not required to meet any sophistication or wealth standards, but will be subject to relatively small investment limits.
On October 30, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted Regulation Crowdfunding. The final rule permits companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding. The “Regulation Crowdfunding Exemption” is created under Section 4(a)(6), Title III of the JOBS Act.
The key features of the final rules
- Permit individuals to purchase securities in crowdfunding offerings subject to certain limits:
- A company is permitted to raise a maximum aggregate amount of $1 million through crowdfunding offerings in a 12-month period.
- Individuals are permitted, over a 12-month period, to invest in the aggregate across all crowdfunding offerings up to:
- The greater of $2,000 or 5% of the lesser of their annual income or net worth, if either their annual income or net worth is less than $100,000.
- 10% of the lesser of their annual income or net worth, if both their annual income and net worth are equal to or more than $100,000.
- The aggregate amount of securities sold to an investor through all crowdfunding offerings may not exceed $100,000.
- Require companies to disclose certain information about their business and securities offering and to file an annual report with the SEC and provide it to investors.
- Create regulatory framework for the broker-dealers and funding portals that facilitate the crowdfunding transactions. A funding portal is required to register with the SEC and become a FINRA member. A company relying on the Regulation Crowdfunding Exemption is required to conduct its offering exclusively through one intermediary platform at a time.
In addition, the SEC is proposing to amend the existing Securities Act Rule 147 and Rule 504. Rule 147 would be amended to, among other things, permit companies to raise money from investors within their state (intrastate offering) without registering the offers and sales with the SEC. Rule 504 would be amended to increase the aggregate amount of securities that may be offered and sold in any 12-month period from $1 million to $5 million. Bad actor disqualification would also apply in Rule 504 offerings.
A full copy of the final rules is available HERE.
Chair Mary Jo White’s remarks on August 5, 2015 highlighted the SEC’s continuing implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act. Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act requires the SEC and CFTC to establish a regulatory framework for the over-the-counter swap market. The SEC is specifically tasked with regulating security-based swap (“SBS”) dealers and major participants.
The Dodd-Frank Act added Section 15F to the Exchange Act requiring the SEC to adopt rules to provide for the registration of SBS dealers and major participants. Once registered, SBS dealers and major participants will be required to update information about their business activities, structure, and background in addition to information about affiliates. Moreover, SBS dealers and major participants will be immediately subject to SEC examination and inspection authority upon registration.
Additionally, SBS dealers and major participants are required to perform documented due diligence to ensure there is a framework to enable compliance with federal securities laws. The due diligence will serve as the basis for the senior officer of the SBS dealer or major participant to certify that written policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent violations of federal securities laws have been implemented at the time of registration.
Under Section 15F(b)(6) it is unlawful, unless otherwise provided by rule, regulation, or order of the SEC, for SBS dealers or major participants to permit a statutorily disqualified associated person to effect or be involved in effecting SBS transactions on their behalf. However, to facilitate the registration process of entities currently engaged in SBS business the SEC provides a limited exception from the statutorily disqualified associated person bar if (1) the associated persons are not natural persons and (2) the statutory disqualifications occurred prior to the compliance date of the final rule once it is published in the Federal Register.
In light of the statutory disqualifications that will apply to dealers and major participants; the SEC has proposed Rule of Practice 194 which provides a process to determine whether it is in the public interest to permit a statutorily disqualified associated person to continue to engage in SBS transactions on behalf of a SBS entity. Comments on proposed Rule of Practice 194 will be due 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
Read the SEC release on SBS registration rules HERE.