The SEC has commenced enforcement proceedings against an adviser and its principal for disregarding its compliance obligations for over 10 years. The SEC alleges that the firm did not even draft or adopt compliance procedures until an SEC examination commenced in 2015, 11 years after it initially registered. The SEC also asserts that the principal named two individuals on Form ADV as Chief Compliance Officers even though neither person had responsibility for compliance, and one of the individuals did not even know that he was named as CCO. The SEC also charges the firm with failing to conduct annual compliance reviews, comply with the custody rule, and maintain required books and records.
The SEC will offer no quarter to RIAs who ignore their basic compliance responsibilities. At a bare minimum, firms must appoint a dedicated and qualified CCO, adopt tailored policies and procedures, annually test the program, and generally attempt to comply with the Advisers Act. The initiation of proceedings, rather than a settled order, suggests that the SEC intends to pursue aggressive penalties.