Articles Tagged with Georgia

On November 22, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an Order Making Findings and Imposing Remedial Sanctions and Cease and Desist Order against an investment adviser, Gray Financial Group, Inc., its founder, Laurence O. Gray, and its co-CEO, Robert C. Hubbard, IV.  The SEC alleged that Gray Financial, Gray, and Hubbard “offered and sold investments in a Gray Financial proprietary fund of funds… to four Georgia public pension clients, despite the fact that they knew, were reckless in not knowing, or should have known that these investments did not comply with the restrictions on alternative investments imposed by Georgia law.”  This case brings attention to an investment adviser’s obligation to “know its clients,” including the obligation to be familiar with laws and contractual provisions that place limitations on the types and amounts of investments in which certain clients, such as pension plans, can invest.

The Public Retirement Systems Investment Authority Law (“the Act”), codified as O.C.G.A. §§ 47-20-80 through 47-20-87, allows certain large retirement systems to invest in alternative investments, such as venture capital funds and merchant banking funds, subject to certain restrictions.  For example, the Act provides that such investments cannot in the aggregate exceed five percent of the retirement system’s assets at any time.  The Act also provides that before a large retirement system can invest in an alternative investment, the alternative investment needs to have had or concurrently have four or more other investors not affiliated with the investment’s issuer. Continue reading

The Georgia Commissioner of Securities has proposed twelve amendments to investment adviser and broker-dealer rules it promulgated late last year under the Georgia Uniform Securities Act. Although some of the amendments deal with housekeeping issues and typographical errors, several are substantive and of interest to industry participants and their counsel.

A proposed change to Rule 590-4-2-.03 would clarify that Rule 505 Form D filings under the Uniform Limited Offering Exemption must be made within 15 days after the first sale of securities in the state, rather than 15 days prior to the sale, as required by the rule as originally adopted.

The second proposed amendment applies to registration of securities by non-profit entities under Rule 590-4-2-.07, often used for so-called “church bonds.” Under the rule as originally adopted, the application of NASAA Statements of Policy relating to church bonds was permissive rather than mandatory: “The Statements of Policy … may be applied, as applicable, to the proposed offer or sale of a security …” and “may serve as the grounds for the disallowance of the exemption” provided by the Act. Under the amendment, the use of the NASAA Policies is now mandatory, the “may” having been replaced by “shall” in both cases.
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The Georgia Commissioner of Securities recently adopted the “Invest Georgia Exemption,” which will make it easier and less expensive for almost any small business located in Georgia to raise capital from fellow Georgians. Unlike most other securities registration exemptions, the Invest Georgia Exemption allows businesses to engage in public solicitations of investors, provided certain conditions are met.

Any business wanting to raise capital using this new exemption must be a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) organized in Georgia and registered with the Secretary of State. In addition,

  • The offering of securities must meet the federal exemption for intrastate offerings requirements, Rule 147, meaning all investors must be Georgia residents;
  • The total amount raised cannot exceed $1,000,000, not including investments from control persons of the business;
  • Unaccredited investors (as defined by the SEC) may not invest more than $10,000 each. However, there is no investment limitation for accredited investors;
  • All investments received must be deposited in an institution authorized to do business in the state of Georgia;
  • The issuer must file a form of notice with the Commissioner briefly explaining the offering. The notice may be filed after sales have been made, unless there is any general solicitation, in which case the notice must be filed prior to the solicitation; and
  • The issuer must inform the purchaser that the securities have not been registered and that there are resale restrictions.

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On October 13, 2011 the Georgia Secretary of State published proposed rules under the Georgia Uniform Securities Act of 2008 (“the 2008 Act”). Among the proposed rules are twenty (20) rules governing investment advisers and investment adviser representatives.

Although many of the proposed rules are consistent with the applicable rules under the prior Georgia Securities Act of 1973, quite a few of the proposed rules are new, and are designed to respond to the changing business and regulatory environment, including passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Firms currently registered in Georgia should pay careful attention to the regulatory changes. In addition, formerly SEC-registered advisers that are switching to Georgia registration will find the Georgia regulatory landscape, under both the old rules and the new ones, if adopted, to be quite different than what they are accustomed to.
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According to a Press Release issued today, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp informed investment advisers that Georgia will likely extend the current July 21, 2011 deadline for transitioning mid-sized advisers to state registration. The new deadline will likely be some time in the first quarter of 2011.

According to the Press Release, the SEC has indicated that it will likely extend the date by which investment advisers with between $25 million and $100 million in assets under management must transition to state registration in accordance with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act). Although the provision in the Dodd-Frank Act requiring the change in registration becomes effective July 21, 2011, the SEC’s Division of Investment Management is recommending to the Commissioners that the transition to state regulation be delayed until sometime in the first quarter of 2012.

The SEC notified the North American Securities Administrators Association that once the SEC adopts the implementing rules, the investment adviser online registration system, known as the Investment Adviser Registration Depository system (IARD), will require reprogramming that will take until the end of 2011 to complete.
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The Georgia Secretary of State issued an Implementation Order that became effective yesterday (December 31, 2010) excluding many solicitors from the definition of “Investment Adviser Representatives,” thereby eliminating the registration requirement for those coming within the exclusion. Entered pursuant to the Georgia Uniform Securities Act of 2002, Secretary of State Uniform Act Implementation Order No. 2010-4 substantially preserves, but slightly modifies, the practice that prevailed under the Georgia Securities Act of 1973.

Under the Georgia Uniform Securities Act of 2008, an individual associated with an investment adviser who “receives compensation to solicit, offer, or negotiate for the sale of investment advice” must register as an “investment adviser representative.”

The Implementation Order, however, excludes from the definition of “investment adviser representative” a solicitor that does not provide investment advice and who meets a number of other requisites. The effect of the Order is to allow persons who typically provide client solicitation services under SEC Rule 206(4)-3, without advising solicited clients, to avoid registration in Georgia. Care should be taken to insure that the solicitor who seeks benefit of the exclusion follows a number of unique provisions of the Georgia order, among them that compensation can be received for no more than 10 clients in a calendar year, unless the solicitor does nothing more than provide a list of investment advisers without determining or representing the advisability of a prospective client entering into a relationship with a particular adviser. Attorneys and CPAs may also solicit persons with whom they have existing relationships.