Potential Liabilities In The IPO Process-Part II
Posted by Securities Attorney Laura Anthony | March 28, 2011 Tags: , , , , ,

Section 12(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) imposes liability on any person who offers or sells a security in violation of Section of the Securities Act. Part I of this blog series discussed the ability of the SEC to bring enforcement proceedings against persons who violate Section 5 of the Securities Act. Part I related to Section 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act. Section 12(a)(1) is the sister to that provision, providing a method for a purchaser of a security, i.e. another person, to bring a civil action against another person who has sold them a security in violation of Section 5.

Single Violation Can Compromise Entire Offering

Section 12(a)(1) provides that a single violation of the registration provisions at the time of an offer will create a cause of action available to all of the purchasers in the offering, even if the conditions of Section 5 are actually complied with at the time an individual sale is made. The possibility of a Section 12(a)(1) claim illustrates the importance of understanding what constitutes an “offer” during the period prior to and following the filing of the registration statement, but before the registration statement becomes effective.

What Defines an Offer to Sell?

Section 2(a)(3) of the Securities Act defines an “offer to sell”, “offer for sale”, or “offer” shall include every attempt or offer to dispose of, or solicitation of an offer to buy, a security or interest in a security, for value. Preliminary negotiations or agreements between an issuer (or any person directly or indirectly controlling or controlled by an issuer, or under direct or indirect common control with an issuer) and any underwriter are excluded from the definition.

Registration Statements and Rights to Indemnification

Securities Act claims, both by persons pursuant to this Section, or by the SEC in an enforcement proceeding, can be brought against any individual who signs the registration statement, in addition, to the Issuer. If state law allows, the officers or directors who sign the registration statement can seek indemnification from the Issuer. However, the SEC itself does not “agree” with the right to indemnification and requires all Issuers to include a statement setting forth the SEC’s position on indemnification in all registration statements.

The bottom line is that if an officer or director signs a registration statement which is filed with the SEC and which contains misstatements or fails to contain material information, they may be subject to liability on two fronts – from the SEC in an enforcement proceeding, and from individuals and entities in a private civil claim.

The Author

Attorney Laura Anthony
Founding Partner, Legal & Compliance, LLC
Securities, Reverse Mergers, Corporate Transactions

Securities attorney Laura Anthony provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and mid-size public Companies as well as private Companies intending to go public on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB), now known as the OTCQB. For more than a decade Ms. Anthony has dedicated her securities law practice towards being “the big firm alternative.” Clients receive fast and efficient cutting-edge legal service without the inherent delays and unnecessary expense of “partner-heavy” securities law firms.

Ms. Anthony’s focus includes but is not limited to compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, (“Exchange Act”) including Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K and the proxy requirements of Section 14. In addition, Ms. Anthony prepares private placement memorandums, registration statements under both the Exchange Act and Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”). Moreover, Ms. Anthony represents both target and acquiring companies in reverse and forward mergers, including preparation of deal documents such as Merger Agreements, Stock Purchase Agreements, Asset Purchase Agreements and Reorganization Agreements. Ms. Anthony prepares the necessary documentation and assists in completing the requirements of the Exchange Act, state law and FINRA for corporate changes such as name changes, reverse and forward splits and change of domicile.

Contact Legal & Compliance, LLC for a free initial consultation or second opinion on an existing matter.

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