Articles Tagged with Private Fund

On May 24, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint against an options trading instructor and unregistered investment adviser, Gustavo A. Guzman (“Guzman”).  The complaint alleges that Guzman obtained more than $2.1 million from investors, assuring them that their funds would be invested in equity options and real estate.  However, evidence showed that Guzman misappropriated a third of the funds “and lost the remainder through his options trading while misleading existing or prospective investors.”

Guzman was not registered as an investment adviser with the SEC or any state authority.  However, he was tasked with managing investments in two private funds specializing in options trading and one real estate hedge fund.  He also received management fees for managing these funds.  As a result, Guzman met the definition of an investment adviser in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) and was subject to its anti-fraud provisions. Continue reading

On February 2, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut against Sentinel Growth Fund Management, LLC (“Sentinel”), an investment adviser, and its founder, Mark J. Varrachi (“Varrachi”).  The complaint alleges that from about December 2015 to November 2016, Varacchi and Sentinel stole $3.95 million or more from investment advisory clients.  The complaint asks that the District Court impose a permanent injunction against Varacchi and Sentinel, order them to disgorge any ill-gotten gains, and order them to pay civil penalties.

Neither Sentinel nor Varrachi was registered as an investment adviser with the SEC or with any state regulatory authority.  However, the SEC charged both of them with violations of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”).  The SEC found that Sentinel was “in the business of providing investment advice concerning securities for compensation,” which fits the definition of an investment adviser in Section 202(a)(11) of the Advisers Act.  As for Varrachi, the SEC determined that because he owned and managed Sentinel, he too was an investment adviser.  As a result of meeting the definition of an investment adviser, Sentinel and Varrachi were subject to the Advisers Act’s antifraud provisions. Continue reading

In the past six months two states, Iowa and Texas, have adopted private fund adviser exemptions to their investment adviser registration requirements under their respective state securities acts. Another state, Washington, has proposed a private fund adviser exemption. These state actions reflect a continuing trend to exempt private fund advisers from registration under certain carefully circumscribed conditions.

The Iowa exemption, which became effective at the end of 2013, exempted advisers providing advice to one or more qualifying private funds so long as neither the advisers nor their affiliates are subject to the “bad boy” disqualification provisions of Rule 262, Regulation A and the adviser files the required exempt reporting adviser’s reports mandated by Rule 204-4 of the Investment Adviser’s Act of 1940 via the IARD filing system. The exemption further provides that representatives of exemption-eligible investment advisers are also exempt from the investment adviser representative registration requirements if they do not otherwise act as representatives, that is, if they only act as representatives in connection with the activities of the exempt private adviser. The Iowa rule also provides that private fund advisers that are registered with the SEC are ineligible for the state exemption and therefore must comply instead with the notice filing requirements under the Iowa Securities Act for federal covered advisers.
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As a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed on July 21, 2010, there have been significant reforms applicable to non-US advisers conducting business in the United States, including new registration requirements under the Advisers Act (the “Act”).

Non-U.S. advisers may need to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in order to conduct future business within the United States. A non-U.S. adviser is defined in the Advisers Act as an investment adviser that:

  • Has no place of business in the United States;
  • Has a total of less than 15 U.S. clients and investors in private funds;
  • Has less than $25 million in assets under management associated with the U.S. clients and investors; and
  • Does not hold itself out generally as a U.S. investment adviser.

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On October 26, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced the adoption of Form PF, which stands for “Private Fund.” Required by the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the adoption of the form seeks to require reporting by larger hedge fund and venture capital private advisers in an effort to assess systemic risks.

The minimum amount of assets under management before the reporting requirement is triggered is $150 million, meaning that smaller private fund advisers are not required to file Form PF at all. Once this threshold is reached, however, there is a tiered reporting requirement base on the level of assets under management within different categories as established by the form. The exclusion for the smaller advisers is justified because their funds have a minimal impact on a broad based systemic risk analysis, according to a statement by SEC Chairman Mary Shapiro delivered in connection with the adoption of the form.
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On June 22, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted new rules and rule amendments under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to implement provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Among other things, the rules, as adopted, provided transitional provisions for investment advisers required to switch from SEC to state registration because they fail to meet the new requirement of $100 million in assets under management, require advisers to hedge funds and other private funds to register with the SEC, require reporting by certain exempt investment advisers, and make substantial changes to the Form ADV.

The final rule relating to transition differed somewhat from the rule originally proposed by the SEC. The final rule requires that any “mid-sized” registrant with the SEC (defined as any firm with between $25 million and $100 million under management) that is registered as of July 21, 2011 (Dodd-Frank’s effective date) must remain registered with the SEC through the transition. New applicants that meet the definition of mid-sized advisers and who seek to apply between January 1, 2011 and July 21, 2011 can apply either with the SEC or the state or states in which it must register.
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The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) today published for comment a proposed custody rule for investment advisers. The proposed rule modifies the account statement detail requirement in subsection (b)(4)(A) of a proposed rule previously issued by NASAA relating to the same subject.

Comments to the previous proposed rule focused on the requirement that an investment adviser to private funds provide detailed quarterly statements to all clients. In response to these overwhelming comments, NASAA modified subsection (b)(4)(A) to reduce the level of detail to be contained in the quarterly statements that are to be sent to investment fund participants. Under the new proposed rule, the quarterly statements need only contain the quarter-end holdings and transactions during the quarter.

The basic structure of the proposed custody rule is consistent with prior model custody rules proposed by NASAA pursuant to Uniform Securities Acts of 1956 and 2002 and adopted by many states. More specifically, it provides for a number of safekeeping requirements including, among other things, providing notice to the state’s securities administrator, employing a qualified custodian, and giving certain notices to clients. In particular, the NASAA proposed rule requires any investment adviser who sends a statement to a client to urge the client to compare the account statements received from a qualified custodian with those received from the investment adviser. Any adviser who has a reasonable basis for believing that the qualified custodian sent account statements to the investors directly need not provide a separate account statement.
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Most private fund managers and registered investment advisers who advise funds based in the United States will be affected by the revisions to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 contained in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in July 2010. The major impact will be felt by funds, fund managers and advisers in the form of new registration requirements and different, more highly defined, exemptions from registration. Dodd-Frank also mandates increased compliance obligations for those required to register, enhanced record-keeping requirements for both registered and exempt managers and funds, and, in some cases, a requirement to file reports detailing information necessary to assess systemic risks.

The most direct impact of Dodd-Frank is the elimination of the exemption for registration for an investment adviser with “fewer than fifteen” clients. This broad stroke eliminates the basis upon which hedge fund managers have traditionally been exempt from investment adviser registration. In place of the “fewer than fifteen” client exemption, Dodd-Frank carves out exemptions for investment advisers based upon either assets under management or the type of fund advised.
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