Pay to Play Violations Remain on the SEC’s Radar

Political contributions remain a significant trap for unwary advisers. The SEC has been relentless in its pursuit of firms that violate Rule 206(4)‑5 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 – commonly known as the “pay to play rule” (Rule). Under the Rule, it is unlawful for an investment adviser to receive compensation from a government pension fund or other government entity for investment advice for two years after the adviser or certain of its employees make a contribution to an official of the government entity who can influence the entity’s selection of investment advisers. An investment adviser recently ran afoul of the Rule when two of its employees made contributions to certain governmental officials. This article details the relevant provisions of the Rule, the alleged violations and the terms of the SEC settlement order. See “Four Pay to Play Traps for Hedge Fund Managers, and How to Avoid Them” (Feb. 5, 2015); “Five Best Practices for Avoidance of Pay to Play Violations by Hedge Fund Managers or Their Covered Associates” (Dec. 8, 2011); and “How Should Hedge Fund Managers Revise Their Compliance Policies and Procedures and Marketing Practices in Light of the SEC’s New ‘Pay to Play’ Rule?” (Jul. 30, 2010).

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