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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

ETF, founder to pay SEC $4.4M for misleading trustees

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On August 1, the SEC settled for $4.4 million with an investment adviser and entities he founded (collectively, the “respondents”) on charges that they breached both their duty of care and duty of loyalty to their client, an exchange traded fund (ETF), in violation of the Investment Advisers Act and the Investment Company Act. As alleged in the settlement, the respondents needed funds to settle a substantial private litigation judgment, and to secure the funds to do so, committed to keep the client’s security lending business with the company providing the financing to the respondents. However, there were better offers on better terms from other securities lenders that could have provided millions more in revenue to the client, and the respondents did not disclose this information to their client or to the client’s independent trustees. In addition to the civil penalties, without admitting or denying the findings, respondents agreed to various non-monetary penalties, including cease-and-desist orders, an associational bar for the investment adviser and censures for the respondent entities.