More On Legal & Compliancefrom The Advisor's Professional Library
- Use and Misuse of Social Media Social media is an inexpensive and effective way to communicate with established and prospective clients. Nevertheless, when RIAs utilize social media to promote their advisory practices, they risk compliance problems for their firms.
- Client Commission Practices and Soft Dollars RIAs should always evaluate whether the products and services they receive from broker-dealers are appropriate. The SEC suggested that an RIAs failure to stay within the scope of the Section 28(e) safe harbor may violate the advisors fiduciary duty to clients, so RIAs must evaluate their soft dollar relationships on a regular basis to ensure they are disclosed properly and that they do not negatively impact the best execution of clients transactions.
The SEC on Tuesday issued an updated investor alert concerning scams purporting to sell pre-IPO shares of companies, including such social media firms as Facebook and Twitter. In addition, it announced actions it has taken against, among others, a Florida man who was fraudulently selling securities of an investment vehicle he claimed held pre-IPO shares of Facebook.
There have been, said the SEC, numerous complaints and inquiries about such scams, which are commonly promoted through social media as well as by more conventional means such as mail, telephone, and personal conversations.
The SEC says that, while legitimate offerings of pre-IPO shares in a company can be found, unregistered offerings could violate federal securities laws unless they meet a registration exemption, such as the restriction of a private offering only to “accredited investors,” those who meet certain income or net worth requirements.
In the case of the Florida man, on April 4 an SEC action resulted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami issuing an Order to Show Cause and Other Emergency Relief against Allen Weintraub, who was already the subject of a final judgment in January enjoining him to stop selling fraudulent shares.
Weintraub’s assets were frozen as a result of the order, as well as assets of shell companies through which he apparently operates. Despite the January court action, the SEC’s motion alleges that Weintraub, acting through an alias, William Lewis, and through entities named Private Stock Transfer Inc., PST Investments III Inc. (PST Investments) and World Financial Solutions, defrauded investors by selling them worthless shares in PST Investments.
The SEC alleges that Weintraub had falsely represented that he would sell the investors pre-IPO shares of Facebook, and that PST Investments had an ownership interest in Facebook stock. The motion also alleges that Weintraub was utilizing the website privatestocktransfer.com to carry out the scheme, and the order directed that this website be deactivated.