Articles Tagged with Safe-harbor

In October 2015, the Financial Services Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) requested comments on a proposal (“Proposal”) to amend its Customer Account Information Rule (“Rule 4512”) and to adopt a new Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults Rule (“Proposed Rule 2165”).  Based on a study published in 2011 and a survey published in 2013, FINRA determined that financial exploitation of seniors and other vulnerable adults is a serious and growing problem that must be addressed.  As of now, a small number of states have already enacted legislation that is designed to help detect and prevent financial exploitation of seniors.  As discussed previously,  the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) recently adopted a model act that is intended to provide states with guidance for drafting legislation or regulations to protect seniors and other vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

FINRA, however, believes there needs to be a uniform, national standard regarding a financial institution’s obligations in helping to prevent financial exploitation of seniors and other vulnerable adults.  Thus, FINRA first published its Proposal in October 2015 and requested comments on it.  After receiving 40 comment letters from both individuals and institutions, FINRA filed the Proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission in October 2016.  The SEC began a comment period on November 7, 2016, and it will end on November 28, 2016.

The proposed amendments to Rule 4512 and Proposed Rule 2165 pertain to the accounts of “Specified Adults.”  A “Specified Adult” is defined as “a natural person age 65 or older or a natural person age 18 or older who the member reasonably believes has a mental or physical impairment that renders the individual unable to protect his or her own interests.”  Thus, the Proposal applies to accounts held by seniors and other vulnerable adults.

In 1974 the  Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”)  adopted Rule 147 as a “safe-harbor”  for intrastate offerings under Section 3(a)(11) of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Act.”)  On October 30, 2015, the SEC proposed sweeping changes to Rule 147. Notably, the proposed Rule 147 would be “decoupled” from Section 3(a)(11), instead being proposed under the SEC’s general exemptive authority in Section 28 of the Act.

Substantively, the proposal – while still limited to offerings entirely within one state – significantly liberalizes the restrictions on intrastate offerings contained in the current Rule 147 and Section 3(a)(11). First, it allows general solicitation across state lines (i.e., using the Internet), whereas such solicitation is now widely seen as problematic due to the current statutory and regulatory prohibition against offers outside the offering state.  The new rule does not prohibit interstate offers, but simply requires that all sales be made to residents of one state.

Also, the current Rule 147 provides that an issuer can make offers or sales only (i) in the state in which it is incorporated or organized; (ii) in the state where its principal office is located; (iii) in the state in which it earns 80% or its revenues and has 80% of its assets; and (iv) if 80% of the proceeds of the offering are used in the state.  The proposed Rule 147 basically requires only one of these standards to be met. The proposal also eliminates the requirement that the issuer be incorporated in the state.

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