The Securities and Exchange Commission is closely monitoring of the impact of Hurricane Irma on investors and capital markets, and continues to monitor the impacts of Hurricane Harvey.
"As we are doing in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, the SEC will be closely monitoring the effects of Hurricane Irma. We will be making sure investors have access to their securities accounts, evaluating the need to extend deadlines for filings and other regulatory requirements, and keeping a watchful eye for storm-related scams," said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone affected by these terrible storms.”
The SEC Divisions and Offices that oversee companies, accountants, investment advisers, mutual funds, brokerage firms, transfer agents, and other regulated entities and investment professionals will continue to closely track developments. They will evaluate the possibility of granting relief from filing deadlines and other regulatory requirements for those affected by the storms. Until the Commission’s Miami Regional Office reopens, investors and market participants in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico can contact the Commission’s Atlanta Regional Office. Entities and investment professionals affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are encouraged to contact Commission staff with questions and concerns:
- Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations staff in the Commission's Atlanta Regional Office can be reached by phone at 404-842-7600 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations staff in the Commission's Miami Regional Office can be reached by phone at 305-982-6300 or email at email@example.com
- Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations staff in the Commission's Fort Worth Regional Office can be reached by phone at 817-978-3821 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Division of Corporation Finance staff can be reached by phone at 202-551-3500 or via online submission at www.sec.gov/forms/corp_fin_interpretive
- Division of Investment Management staff can be reached by phone at 202-551-6825 or email at email@example.com
- Division of Trading and Markets staff can be reached by phone at 202-551-5777 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Office of Municipal Securities staff can be reached by phone at 202-551-5680 or email at email@example.com
Individuals experiencing problems accessing their securities accounts or with similar questions or concerns relating to the hurricanes are encouraged to contact the Commission's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy by phone at 1-800-SEC-0330 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Division of Enforcement will be vigilant for Hurricane Harvey and Irma-related securities scams and will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to defraud victims of the storms. The SEC is asking investors to report any suspicious solicitations at www.sec.gov/complaint/tipscomplaint.shtml. An SEC Investor Alert can be found at: https://investor.gov/additional-resources/news-alerts/alerts-bulletins/investor-alert-be-vigilant-investment-scams.
This applies to transactions in the following shares as well as to all related instruments relevant for the calculation of the net short position.
- Liberbank, S.A (ISIN: ES0168675090)
This measure is effective immediately until the end of trading on the 30 November 2017.
Consumer warning about the risks of Initial Coin Offerings (‘ICOs’)
What are ICOs?
The term ICO refers to a digital way of raising funds from the public using a virtual currency, also known as cryptocurrency. An ICO can also be known as ‘token sale’ or ‘coin sale’.
ICO issuers accept a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin or Ether, in exchange for a proprietary ‘coin’ or ‘token’ that is related to a specific firm or project. ICOs vary widely in design. The digital token issued may represent a share in a firm, a prepayment voucher for future services or in some cases offer no discernible value at all. Often ICO projects are in a very early stage of development.
ICOs are very high-risk, speculative investments.
You should be conscious of the risks involved (highlighted below) and fully research the specific project if you are thinking about buying digital tokens. You should only invest in an ICO project if you are an experienced investor, confident in the quality of the ICO project itself (e.g. business plan, technology, people involved) and prepared to lose your entire stake.
What are the risks?
- Unregulated space: Most ICOs are not regulated by the FCA and many are based overseas.
- No investor protection: You are extremely unlikely to have access to UK regulatory protections like the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or the Financial Ombudsman Service.
- Price volatility: Like cryptocurrencies in general, the value of a token may be extremely volatile – vulnerable to dramatic changes.
- Potential for fraud: Some issuers might not have the intention to use the funds raised in the way set out when the project was marketed.
- Inadequate documentation: Instead of a regulated prospectus, ICOs usually only provide a ‘white paper’. An ICO white paper might be unbalanced, incomplete or misleading. A sophisticated technical understanding is needed to fully understand the tokens’ characteristics and risks.
- Early stage projects: Typically ICO projects are in a very early stage of development and their business models are experimental. There is a good chance of losing your whole stake.
Are ICOs regulated by the FCA?
Whether an ICO falls within the FCA’s regulatory boundaries or not can only be decided case by case.
Many ICOs will fall outside the regulated space. However, depending on how they are structured, some ICOs may involve regulated investments and firms involved in an ICO may be conducting regulated activities.
Some ICOs feature parallels with Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), private placement of securities, crowdfunding or even collective investment schemes. Some tokens may also constitute transferable securities and therefore may fall within the prospectus regime.
Businesses involved in an ICO should carefully consider if their activities could mean they are arranging, dealing or advising on regulated financial investments. Each promoter needs to consider whether their activities amount to regulated activities under the relevant law. In addition, digital currency exchanges that facilitate the exchange of certain tokens should consider if they need to be authorised by the FCA to be able to deliver their services.
Should I report ICOs to the FCA?
If you suspect that an ICO is a scam, report it to the FCA via our online form.
To learn more about general warning signs of scams, visit our ScamSmart pages.
To learn more about potential benefits and challenges of the underlying technology that facilitates ICOs, please refer to the FCA’s Discussion Paper DP17/3 on distributed ledger technology (DLT) from April 2017. We are currently reviewing responses to this discussion paper and are looking to publish our findings at the end of this year.
Certain other national regulators have issued bulletins or statements on ICOs, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Canadian Securities Administrators, the People’s Bank of China and the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong.
Last week, on September 5, 2017, the securities industry successfully implemented a shortened settlement cycle for most securities transactions, pursuant to amendments to Rule 15c6-1 that the Commission adopted earlier this year. The move to a two business day standard settlement cycle – or T+2 – was the product of extensive preparation and coordination among regulators and industry. This change represents a significant milestone for the securities markets – the standard settlement cycle was last shortened in 1995 when it moved from five business days to three business days. The first transactions covered by the amended rule settled on September 7, 2017.
The benefits of a shortened settlement cycle extend throughout the financial sector. The shortened settlement cycle, which was largely enabled by advances in technology, should reduce certain risks in the clearance and settlement process, including credit, market, and liquidity risks for central counterparties, their members, and other market participants. It also should enhance efficiency by promoting innovation and changes in market infrastructures and operations.
“Last week’s transition to a T+2 standard settlement cycle represents a significant accomplishment,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. “Going forward, investors and other market participants will be able to receive the proceeds of their securities transactions one day sooner, thereby enhancing the overall efficiency of the U.S. securities markets. I would like to thank my colleagues, including Commissioners Piwowar and Stein and the staff of the Commission, for their leadership in achieving this important result.”
“Last week, the U.S. securities markets terminated the outdated T+3 settlement cycle and successfully implemented T+2,” said Commissioner Michael Piwowar. “I applaud the Commission staff and market participants for achieving a smooth transition to a new environment that provides greater efficiency and less risk to the American people.”
“The shortened settlement cycle benefits investors and contributes to the resiliency of our securities markets,” said Commissioner Kara Stein. “I look forward to future collaborative efforts as we work together to further enhance our market structure.”
If you have additional questions about this transition to the T+2 standard settlement cycle, the Commission will continue to maintain the previously-established e-mail address – T2settlement@sec.gov – for the submission of inquiries to SEC staff.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today announced the opening of registration for the Compliance Outreach Program for Municipal Advisors.
There is no cost to attend the program, which provides an open forum for municipal advisory industry professionals to discuss compliance practices with regulators and promote a more effective compliance structure for regulatory obligations of municipal advisors. The event will be held at the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office on November 8, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, and webcast live on the SEC’s website. Additional information, including the agenda, is available on the SEC, MSRB, and FINRA websites.
The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) and Office of Municipal Securities are partnering with the MSRB and FINRA to sponsor the program. Topics of discussion include the duties and standards of conduct for non-solicitor municipal advisors under MSRB Rule G-42 and the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, and municipal advisor compliance with supervision, registration, and books and records rules. The program also will include a roundtable discussion among the regulators and a question and answer session with participants.
“This program is designed to promote compliance with municipal advisor regulations and affords the industry the opportunity to hear from all three regulators on the regulatory obligations of municipal advisors,” said Rebecca Olsen, Deputy Director of the SEC’s Office of Municipal Securities. Suzanne McGovern, Assistant Director of the SEC's broker-dealer and municipal advisor examination programs, added, “This municipal advisor outreach will take a deeper dive into regulatory requirements and their practical implementation, helping municipal advisor professionals ensure proper regulatory compliance.”
MSRB Executive Director Lynnette Kelly said, “This program is consistent with the MSRB’s goal of assisting municipal advisors in understanding and complying with their regulatory obligations, and municipal advisors will benefit from getting first-hand feedback from our staff.”
Mike Rufino, FINRA’s Head of Member Regulation-Sales Practice, said, “Any firm that wants to enhance its understanding of the regulatory expectations in the important areas of fiduciary duty and supervision will benefit from participating in the outreach program.”
Registration is being administered by the MSRB and is open to all municipal advisor industry professionals, with a maximum of two in-person attendees per firm. In-person attendance is limited to a first-come, first-served basis. For those who cannot attend in person, the program will be webcast live on the SEC’s website.
Register to attend the program here. Information on accessing the webcast and the links to program materials will be posted on the SEC, MSRB, and the FINRA websites on the day of the program.
Almost all firms and individuals offering, promoting or selling financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised by us.
However, some firms act without our authorisation and some knowingly run investment scams.
This firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation.
Genworth Consultant Group
Address: 140 West Street, New York, 10007. USA
Website: www.genworthconsultantgrp.com; www.genworthconsultant.com
How to protect yourself
We strongly advise you to only deal with financial firms that are authorised by us, and check the Financial Services Register to ensure they are. It has information on firms and individuals that are, or have been, regulated by us.
If you want to check a consumer credit firm that may not yet have been authorised by us, please also check the Interim Permission Register.
If a firm does not appear on the Register but claims it does, contact our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.
There are more steps you should take to avoid scams and unauthorised firms.
You should also be aware that if you give money to an unauthorised firm, you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.
Report an unauthorised firm
If you think you have been approached by an unauthorised firm or contacted about a scam, you should contact our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. If you were offered, bought or sold shares, you can use our reporting form.