A recent enforcement action settled in an administrative proceeding brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) underscores the importance for investment advisers to adopt and follow rules designed to prohibit inappropriate gifts to and from clients by investment adviser personnel. In a matter previously discussed on our blog, Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC (“Guggenheim”) settled charges, without admitting or denying any violations that it had failed to adopt, or implement reasonable compliance procedures as required by Rule 206(4)-7 under the Investment Adviser’s Act designed to regulate gifts and entertainment provided to and from the adviser or its personnel.
More specifically, the SEC’s Order instituting administrative proceedings recited that Guggenheim’s compliance manual adopted a rule that required supervised persons to seek and obtain approval of the Chief Compliance Officer before personnel could receive any gift above an established de minimis value that was defined in the manual as being $250.00 or less. Despite this policy, between 2009 and 2012 at least seven Guggenheim employees took 44 or more flights on private planes of Guggenheim clients, none of which were reported to the Chief Compliance Officer as required by the policy. The compliance log reflected only one such flight that was only recorded because the flight had been mentioned to the Chief Compliance Officer after the flight occurred. The Commission found that Guggenheim failed to enforce its own policies with respect to gifts and entertainment and failed to implement compliance policies and procedures regarding gifts and entertainment.