SEC Enforcement Action and Bulletins Shine Spotlight on Use of Social Media by Investment Advisers

Respondent Anthony Fields (Fields) is an Illinois accountant who operated as a registered investment adviser under the d/b/a Anthony Fields & Associates (AFA).  Fields was also the sole proprietor of Platinum Securities Brokers (Platinum), which was briefly registered as a broker-dealer.  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued an order commencing cease and desist proceedings against Fields, AFA and Platinum for various alleged violations of the securities laws.  Many of those violations arose from postings and offerings of fictitious securities made on the respondents’ websites and social media sites, including LinkedIn.  The SEC seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits and civil penalties.  Simultaneously with the commencement of this enforcement proceeding, the SEC issued a “Risk Alert” covering compliance issues that arise when investment advisers use social media and two alerts that warn individual investors of the potential risks posed by social media sites.  This article summarizes the key points from the SEC’s order and the related alerts.  See also “Legal Considerations for Hedge Fund Managers that Use Social Media,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 4, No. 14 (Apr. 29, 2011).

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