Three Recent SEC Orders Demonstrate a Renewed Emphasis on Investment Adviser Compliance Policies and Procedures by the Enforcement Division

A trio of consent orders recently issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) highlights the importance of adoption by investment advisers of meaningful compliance policies and procedures and following through when SEC examinations reveal deficiencies.  The subjects of the SEC’s actions, Asset Advisors, LLC, Feltl & Company, Inc., and OMNI Investment Advisors Inc. (and its principal Gary R. Beynon), all failed to maintain and implement appropriate compliance and ethics policies.  Two of those respondents failed to implement SEC recommendations from earlier examinations.  All three respondents were censured, fined and ordered to cease and desist from future violations, although respondents neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s allegations.  Although none of the respondents was a hedge fund manager, the legal principles at issue in the three matters have direct relevance to adoption and implementation of compliance policies and procedures by registered hedge fund managers.  This article summarizes the key factual and legal points from the three orders.  For an overview of SEC examinations and likely areas of inquiry regarding compliance, see “SEC Exams of Hedge Fund Advisers: Focus Areas and Common Deficiencies in Compliance Policies and Procedures,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 4, No. 38 (Oct. 27, 2011).  For more on SEC examinations, disclosure of examinations and the consequences of ignoring the SEC’s recommendations following an examination, see “Are Hedge Fund Managers Required to Disclose the Existence or Outcome of Regulatory Examinations to Current or Potential Investors?,”  Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 4, No. 32 (Sep. 16, 2011).

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