FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) announced on May 4, 2022, that it fined two FINRA registered funding portals, a combined $1.75 million for failing to comply with securities laws and rules designed to protect investors in the crowdfunding space. These news releases are useful tools to look for trends in enforcement, violations, and other sanctions. These trends can assist you in identifying weak areas in your Firm’s compliance programs or surveillance. Below is a summary of the Wefunder and StartEngine matters, as well as key takeaways. Click here for the corresponding news release. Summary of Findings from Wefunder Enforcement: From Read more about Crowdfunding Enforcement Lessons Learned[…]
On Nov. 2, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted final rules to simplify the exempt offering framework. The SEC’s goal with these amendments was to “simplify, harmonize, and improve certain aspects of the exempt offering framework to promote capital formation while preserving or enhancing important investor protections.”. More Specifically they aimed to:
- Address the ability of issuers to move from one exemption to another;
- Set clear and consistent rules governing offering communications between investors and issuers;
- Address potential gaps and inconsistencies in their rules relating to offering and investment limits; and
- Harmonize certain disclosure requirements and bad actor disqualification provisions.
[Continued from Crowdfunding: Funding Portal Registration – Part I]
Funding Portal Registration Process
Firms seeking to register as funding portals must do so via completion of an application process with FINRA. The registration process for a funding portal is similar to, but much less comprehensive and exhaustive, the New Member Registration process completed by applicants wishing to become broker-dealers.
Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, enacted in 2012, provides guidance and regulation relating to securities offered or sold through crowdfunding activities. In 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) added onto this initial act by creating a new ruleset that implemented a regulatory framework for intermediaries that facilitate such crowdfunding transactions. This includes regulations for a relatively new intermediary: the funding portal. Securities Act Section 4(a)(6) (otherwise known as “Regulation CF”) requires that intermediaries in crowdfunding transactions be registered with the SEC as either a broker-dealer or a funding portal.
[Continued from Regulation Crowdfunding – Part I]
Crowdfunding Requirements for Intermediaries
The following requirements apply to both broker-dealers and funding portals acting as an intermediary in a transaction involving the sales of securities pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding (“Regulation CF”):
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- Register with the SEC as a broker or as a funding portal.
- Register with a self-regulatory organization (“SRO”); the only eligible SRO at present being FINRA.
On October 30, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) voted to adopt Regulation Crowdfunding (“Regulation CF”) under the provisions of Title III of the JOBS Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”). The final rules adopted under Regulation CF became effective on May 16, 2016, with entities wishing to act as broker-dealers or “crowdfunding portals” for such offerings starting the application process with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) as early as the end of January.