In two recent administrative decisions, the SEC has upheld FINRA’s broad authority under Rule 6490 to approve and effectuate corporate actions by public companies trading on the OTC Markets. One of FINRA’s mandates is to protect investors and maintain fair and orderly markets and like broker-dealers, it acts as a gatekeeper in the small-cap industry. FINRA exercises its powers though the direct regulation of its member broker-dealer firms, but also through its Office of Fraud Detection and Market Intelligence, which monitors the trading activity and press releases of issues in the marketplace and conducts related investigations. FINRA works with the SEC as a front line in the detection, investigation and assistance with the prosecution of issuers.
Recently, through its power under Rule 6490, as more fully explained below, FINRA has, with the support of the SEC, expanded its impact on the small-cap marketplace by conducting in-depth reviews of issuers in conjunction with the processing of corporate actions, and denying such
ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100
On October 7, 2014, the SEC published a release instituting proceedings to determine whether to approve FINRA’s request to delete the rules related to, and the operations of, the OTC Bulletin Board quotation service. On June 27, 2014, FINRA quietly filed a proposed rule change with the SEC seeking to adopt rules relating to the quotation requirements for OTC equity services and to delete the rules relating to the OTCBB and thus cease its operations. Although the rule filing was published in the Federal Register, it garnered no attention in the small cap marketplace. Only one comment letter, from OTC Market Group, Inc. (“OTC Markets”) (i.e., the entity that owns and operates the inter-dealer quotation system known by its OTC Pink, OTCQB and OTCQX quotation tiers) was submitted in response to the filing.
The OTCBB has become increasingly irrelevant in the OTC marketplace for years. In October 2010, I wrote a blog titled