As we recently highlighted, the Securities and Exchange Commission took enforcement action against three registered investment advisers for violating the pay-to-play rule applicable to advisers under the Investment Advisers Act. Broker-dealers should be aware that in 2017 the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced the approval of modifications to two rules – Rules 203 and 458, imposing similar prohibitions and limitations on capital acquisition brokers (“CABs”). A CAB is a FINRA member firm that participates in a restricted amount of activities, such as “advising companies on capital raising and corporate restructuring, and acting as placement agents for sales of unregistered securities to institutional investors under limited conditions.” The rules will implement “’pay-to-play’ and related recordkeeping rules to the activities of member firms that have elected to be governed by the CAB Rules.” The new rules went into effect on December 6, 2017. Continue reading
Last month three registered investment advisers settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission over charges they violated the pay-to-play rule, Investment Advisers Act Rule 206(4)-5. The Orders Instituting Proceedings were entered against EnCap Investments, L.P., Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., and Sofinnova Ventures, Inc. All three advisers submitted offers of settlement in connection with the Orders.
The Pay-to-Play Rule prohibits registered investment advisers and exempt reporting advisers from offering investment advisory services for compensation to a government entity for a period of at least two years after the investment adviser or a covered associate of the investment adviser makes a political contribution to an official of the government entity. An investment adviser violates the Pay-to-Play Rule regardless of whether the investment adviser intended to influence the government entity official. Continue reading
On January 17, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued ten Orders Instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings (“Orders”) against ten investment advisory firms. In each of its Orders, the SEC alleges that each investment advisory firm gave money to campaigns for politicians who, if elected, would have the power to determine the choice of investment advisers to oversee government assets, and subsequently gave investment advisory services to public pension funds. According to the SEC, these actions constituted violations of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”).
Rule 206(4)-5(a)(1), commonly known as the Pay-to-Play Rule, provides that investment advisers who are registered with the SEC, foreign private advisers, and exempt reporting advisers are not permitted to provide “investment advisory services for compensation to a government entity within two years after a contribution to an official of a government entity made by the investment adviser or any covered associate of the investment adviser.” This rule applies regardless of whether the investment adviser or covered person intended to sway the official. According to the SEC’s Orders, five of the investment advisory firms were SEC-registered investment advisers, while the remaining five were exempt reporting advisers. Thus, all ten of the investment advisory firms were subject to the provisions of Rule 206(4)-5(a)(1). Continue reading
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) recently filed its revised pay-to-play rules proposal with the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Investment advisers have been awaiting FINRA’s pay-to-play rules ever since the SEC announced last year that it would not recommend enforcement action against an investment adviser or its associated persons for the payment to a third party for the solicitation of a government entity for investment advisory services until either FINRA or the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”) had adopted its own pay-to-pay rules for broker-dealers.
Pay-to-play activities involve the practice of making cash or in kind contributions, or soliciting others to make those contributions, to state or local officials or other government entities as an incentive for the receipt of government contracts. Pursuant to Rule 206(4)-5, investment advisers are prohibited from providing a government entity with investment advisory services for compensation within two years of contributing monetarily to that government entity. In addition, and of particular interest here, under Rule 206(4)-5 investment advisers may not provide payment to any third party to solicit a government entity for investment advisory services on behalf of the investment adviser unless that third party is a registered investment adviser, a registered broker-dealer, or a registered municipal adviser.