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Crowd Funding for Equity Solutions: # 7 Regulation D, Section 508 a Safe Harbor for Crowd Funding
1933 Securities Act requires security sales to be registered. There's an exception: Regulation D, Section 508 does not require registration if sale is made to an "accredited investor." We propose it's embraced in crowd funding rules under JOBS Act.
The new Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act is expanding securities law into new horizons, such as permitting advertising of securities under Reg. D, Section 508, and permitting the offer of equity through online crowdfunding portals. Small businesses will be able to seek up to $ 1 million per year from small investors through crowdfunding portals. However, the JOBS Act requires the SEC to create rules to govern crowdfunding, including, how crowdfunding portals can transact such equity offerings, and what businesses will need to disclose when they make a crowdfunding offering. We recommend that insignificant deviations excused from liability under Reg. D, Section 508 should apply to crowdfunding.
Regulation D, 508 of the Securities Act stipulates that exemption under Regulation D should not be lost if insignificant failure occurs or failure to comply to a term under Reg D 504, 505 or 506. We suggest that the SEC should apply the Rule 508 "safe harbor" to crowd funding and thus alleviate the issues of that may occur should an unaccredited investor have a claim although filling out all compliance and questions as SEC will stipulate in it's ruling within 270 days from that Pres Obama signed it into law April 5, 2012.
"No different than other private offerings under existing SEC rules, there needs to be a recognition and regulatory willingness to apply certain accepted rules and conventions to Crowdfunding,”
In essence, Rule 508 and the SEC has the ability to apply it to the crowd funding rules which should give some leeway for issuers to feel comfortable with crowd funding instead of a regular Reg D offering. Yet again, Reg D will always be more attractive except for the cost inherent in filing for one and doing a private placement memorandum. Crowd Funding just had a hearing held in Washington DC by Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC). Professor John Coffee of Columbia and Alon Hillel-Tuch from RocketHub were congressional witnesses. They covered topics one what may need to be amended potentially in the JOBS Act and what the SEC can do to implement the new regulation.
Mr. Hillel-Tuch testified "As shown in the July 2010 Kaufman Foundation report, startups are the job creation engine in the American economy. Without startups there is no net job growth. Access to capital for small business is a challenge; small businesses have relied on financing from community members, as well as credit card debt, loans, and angel investors. Debt structures often come at a high cost and burden to entrepreneurs, who may lack regular cash flow, during the growth stages of their companies."
For your reference, we include the relevant portion of Section 508 that could be instrumental in facilitation crowd funding:
Rule 508 -- Insignificant Deviations from a Term, Condition or Requirement of Regulation D
1. A failure to comply with a term, condition or requirement of Rule 504, Rule 505 or Rule 506 will not result in the loss of the exemption from the requirements of section 5 of the Act for any offer or sale to a particular individual or entity, if the person relying on the exemption shows:
a. The failure to comply did not pertain to a term, condition or requirement directly intended to protect that particular individual or entity; and
b. The failure to comply was insignificant with respect to the offering as a whole, provided that any failure to comply with paragraph (c) of Rule 502, paragraph (b)(2) of Rule 504, paragraph (b)(2)(i) and paragraph(b)(
c. A good faith and reasonable attempt was made to comply with all applicable terms, conditions and requirements of Rule 504, Rule 505 or Rule 506.
2. A transaction made in reliance onRule 504, Rule 505 or Rule 506 shall comply with all applicable terms, conditions and requirements of Regulation D. Where an exemption is established only through reliance upon paragraph (a) of this section, the failure to comply shall nonetheless be actionable by the Commission under section 20 of the Act.
ABOUT THE SOHO LOFT
The Soho Loft Capital Creation Events "TSL" a holding company of LDJ Capital, is a world leader in speaking and paneling on crowd funding and the JOBS Act (Jump Start Opportunities for Business StartUps Act) at conferences globally. We provide leadership to the world in the areas of crowd funding, micro-finance,venture capital, family offices and funds. In 2012 TSL is hosting 60 finance-focused events and expects to increase this to 120 during 2013. TSL co-founded the Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA) and have partnered with Johan Gorecki, co-founder of Skype. For more information, visit thesoholoft.com.