SEC Files Proceedings Against 19 S-1 Companies and Suspends Trading on 255 Shell Companies
A. S-1 Proceedings
On February 3, 2014, the SEC initiated administrative proceedings against 19 companies that had filed S-1 registration statements. The 19 registration statements were all filed with an approximate 2-month period around January 2013. Each of the companies claimed to be an exploration-stage entity in the mining business without known reserves, and each claimed they had not yet begun actual mining. The 19 entities used the same attorney, who is the subject of a separate SEC action filed in August 2013 alleging involvement in a pump-and-dump scheme. Each of the entities was incorporated at around the same time using the same registered agent service. The 19 S-1’s read substantially the same.
Importantly, each of the 19 S-1’s lists a separate officer, director and sole shareholder, and each claims that this person is the sole control person. The SEC complains that contrary to the representations in the S-1, a separate single individual is the actual control person behind each
SEC has Modified Policies on Offerings by Shell Companies
Recently, albeit not officially, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has materially altered its position on offerings by shell companies that are not blank-check companies. In particular, over the past year, numerous shell companies that are not also blank-check companies have completed offerings using an S-1 registration statement and successfully obtained market maker support and a ticker symbol from FINRA and are trading. As recently as 18 months ago, this was not possible.
Rule 419 and Blank-Check Companies
The provisions of Rule 419 apply to every registration statement filed under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, by a blank-check company. Rule 419 requires that the blank-check company filing such registration statement deposit the securities being offered and proceeds of the offering into