D.C. Circuit Vacates SEC Sanctions, Says Negligent Omissions Are Not ‘Willful’ Under Advisers Act

On April 30, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a Securities and Exchange Commission order imposing sanctions. The court held that an investment advisory firm and its owners did not violate Section 207 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1930, 15 U.S.C. § 80b-7, by negligently omitting material facts from the firm’s Form ADV. (See Robare Group, Ltd., et al. v. SEC, No. 16-1453.) In September 2014, SEC Enforcement charged the petitioners, The Robare Group and its two principals, with violations of Sections 206(1), 206(2) and 207 of the Advisers Act, alleging that they willfully failed to disclose a revenue-sharing arrangement through which the firm received compensation when its clients invested in certain mutual funds. After an administrative law judge dismissed all charges, the SEC reviewed the case de novo and determined that, while the record did not support a finding of scienter, the…

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