I have often written about state blue sky compliance and issues in completing offerings that do not pre-empt state law, including Tier 1 of Regulation A+ and initial or direct public offerings on Form S-1. I’ve also often expressed my opinion that the SEC, together with FINRA, is best suited to govern most securities-related registrations and exemptions, including both for offerings and broker-dealer matters, and that the states should be more focused on state-specific registrations and exemptions (such as intrastate offerings) and investigation and enforcement with respect to fraud or deceit, or unlawful conduct.
Despite the SEC support for the NASAA-coordinated review program to simplify the state blue sky process for securities offerings, such as under Tier 1 of Regulation A+, only 43 states participate. I say “only” in this context because the holdouts – including, for example, Florida, New York, Arizona and Georgia – are extremely active states for small business development and private capital formation. Moreover, even
National Markets Improvement Act of 1996 (NSMIA)
Generally, an offering and/or sale of securities must be either registered or exempt from registration under both the federal Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) and state securities laws. As a result of a lack of uniformity in state securities laws and associated burden on capital-raising transactions, on October 11, 1996, the National Securities Markets Improvement Act of 1996 (“NSMIA”) was enacted into law.
The NSMIA amended Section 18 of the Securities Act to pre-empt state “blue sky” registration and review of specified securities and offerings. The preempted securities are called “covered securities.” The NSMIA also amended Section 15 of the Exchange Act to pre-empt the state’s authority over capital, custody, margin, financial responsibility, making and keeping records, bonding or financial or operational reporting requirements for brokers and dealers.
In this Part I, I summarize the NSMIA pre-emption provisions. Part II discusses state blue sky laws.
Section 18; Exemption from State Regulation of
SEC Sanctions BITCOIN Exchange Operator-A Case Study In Basic Registration And Exemption Requirements
ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100
On December 8, 2014, the SEC settled charges against a creative, but ill informed, entrepreneur for acting as an unlicensed broker-dealer and for violations of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Ethan Burnside and his company, BTC Trading Corp., operated two online enterprises, BTC Virtual Stock Exchange and LTC-Global Virtual Stock Exchange, that traded securities using virtual currencies, bitcoin or litecoin. Neither of these exchanges were registered as broker-dealers or stock exchanges. In addition, Burnside and his company conducted separate transactions in which he offered investors the opportunity to use virtual currencies to buy or sell shares in the LTC-Global exchange itself and a separate litecoin mining venture he owned and operated. These offerings were not registered with the SEC as required under the federal securities laws.
On December 18, 2013, the SEC published proposed rules to implement Title IV of the JOBS Act, commonly referred to as Regulation A+. Since that time there has been very little activity towards the advancement of a final rule. The comment period closed March 24, 2014, and presumably the SEC is analyzing the information and deciding on the next reiteration.
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), a group whose members are comprised of state securities regulators, while supportive of the Regulation A+ concept as a whole, has been vocal of its opposition of the proposed state law pre-emption provisions.
Notably, on April 8, 2014, Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar, the NASAA liaison, gave a speech at the North American Securities Administrators Association commenting on the NASAA’s position. In the speech Mr. Aguilar praised the concept of the rule itself, including the two-tier structure, offering amount limits and importantly ongoing reporting requirements. He expressed agreement with many of the same