The SEC ordered the payment of over $125 Million in disgorgement and interest against 79 investment advisers who self-reported that they recommended share classes that paid back 12b-1 fees when lower-cost share classes were available. Combined with the group of settlements back in March, the SEC has brought 95 total cases and ordered over $135 million returned to investors pursuant to its Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative. The largest restitution order of the most recent 16 cases exceeded $2.9 Million. The SEC also settled an action against a firm that did not self-report, resulting in a $300,000 fine in addition to ordering over $900,000 in restitution. The cases allege that the firms did not sufficiently disclose the conflict of interest arising by recommending a share class that paid back revenue sharing to the adviser, its affiliates, or their personnel.
It is unclear whether this group of cases is the beginning, middle, or end of the Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative. Regardless, firms are on notice that they must clean up their disclosures and reimburse investors if they have recommended higher expense share classes.