The 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 Part I of this blog, I summarized the NSMIA pre-emption provisions. In this Part II, I discuss state blue sky laws.
Depositing Penny Stocks with Brokers Creates Obstacles; SEC Charges E*Trade with Section 5 Violation
ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100
On October 9, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed an enforcement action against E*Trade Securities and E*Trade Capital Markets for selling billions of shares of unregistered and otherwise restricted penny stocks for their customers. The SEC found that the firms processed the sales on behalf of three customers while ignoring red flags that the offerings being conducted were in violation of the federal securities laws in that the shares were neither registered nor subject to an available exemption from registration. E*Trade Securities and E*Trade Capital Markets settled the enforcement proceeding by agreeing to pay a total of $2.5 million in disgorgement and penalties.
The SEC press release on the matter quoted Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, as saying, “Broker-dealers serve an important gatekeeping function that helps prevent microcap fraud by taking measures to ensure that unregistered shares don’t reach the market if the registration rules