This version was introduced with the filing of SR-FINRA-2020-015, and extended by SR-FINRA-2020-017 and SR-FINRA-2020-022, which were filed for Immediate Effectiveness. This version is temporary and effective from May 8, 2020, through a date to be specified in a public notice issued by FINRA, which date will be at least two weeks from the date of the notice, and no later than December 31, 2020, pending any future extensions.
(1) In furtherance of FINRA's obligations to foster cooperation and coordination of the clearing, settling and processing of transactions in equity and debt securities of any issuer with a class of publicly traded, non-exchange listed, securities in the OTC market and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest, FINRA's Operations Department ("Department") reviews and processes documents related to announcements for SEA Rule 10b-17 Actions and Other Company-Related Actions to facilitate the orderly trading and settlement of OTC securities.
(2) For purposes of this Rule, the term "SEA Rule 10b-17 Actions" includes, dividends or other distributions in cash or kind, stock splits or reverse stock splits, or rights or other subscription offerings, and such other actions as are provided for in SEA Rule 10b-17; and the term "Other Company-Related Actions" includes, but is not limited to, any issuance or change to a symbol or name, mergers, acquisitions, dissolutions or other company control transactions; and bankruptcy or liquidations.
(3) This Rule details the advance notification, supporting documentation and fees required by FINRA to process documentation related to such requests.
(b) Request for FINRA Action
(1) An issuer or other duly authorized representative of the issuer may request that FINRA process documentation related to an SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company-Related Action by submitting a signed request in the manner and form required by FINRA ("Requesting Party"). Initial symbol set up requests may also be submitted by members or associated persons of members in order to comply with regulatory reporting requirements.
(2) All requests to process documentation related to an SEA Rule 10b-17 Action must be complete and submitted to the Department, in the manner and form required, no later than the time frame specified in SEA Rule 10b-17. A Requesting Party that does not submit a completed request to the Department, in the manner and form required, within the time frame specified in SEA Rule 10b-17, shall be deemed "late" and, as set forth in this Rule, subject to an additional fee before the request may be processed. Nothing in the Rule shall alter the obligations of an issuer under SEA Rule 10b-17 and the processing of documentation related to a "late" SEA Rule 10b-17 Action request by FINRA shall not relieve an issuer of any violations under such rule.
(3) All requests to process documentation related to Other Company-Related Actions must be complete and submitted to the Department, in the manner and form required, no later than the time period prescribed for such Other Company-Related Action by FINRA. Notice and information submitted for Other Company-Related Actions must be submitted no later than 10 calendar days prior to the effective date of the company action. A Requesting Party that does not submit a completed FINRA action form to the Department, in the manner and form prescribed, at least ten (10) calendar days prior to the proposed effective date of the company action, shall be deemed "late" and as set forth in this Rule, subject to an additional fee before being processed.
(4) The Department may request such additional information or documentation as may be necessary for the Department to review the request to process documentation related to an SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company-Related Action and verify the accuracy of the information submitted.
The Requesting Party shall pay the following non-refundable fees for the review and processing of documentation related to an SEA Rule 10b-17 Action and Other Company-Related Action:
|SEA Rule 10b-17 Action
|Timely SEA Rule 10b-17
|Late SEA Rule 10b-17 Notification
Submitted at least 5 calendar days prior
to Corporate Action Date
|Late SEA Rule 10b-17 Notification
Submitted at least 1 calendar day prior
to Corporate Action Date
|Late SEA Rule 10b-17 Notification
Submitted on or after Corporate Action Date
|Other Company-Related Action
|Voluntary Symbol Request Change
|Initial Symbol Set Up
|Action Determination Appeal Fee
(d) Procedures for Reviewing Submissions
The Department shall review all requests to process documentation related to SEA Rule 10b-17 Actions and Other Company-Related Actions that are submitted pursuant to this Rule, including any additional documents or information requested in accordance with paragraph (b) above. All such requests must be accompanied by proof of payment of the requisite fee when appropriate in accordance with paragraph (c) above.
(2) Lapsed Requests
Where a Requesting Party does not, in the reasonable determination of the Department, sufficiently respond to any request by the Department for additional information or documentation pursuant to paragraph (b)(3) above within 90 calendar days following such Department request, such party's request shall be deemed "lapsed" and be closed.
(3) Deficiency Determination
In circumstances where an SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company-Related Action is deemed deficient, the Department may determine that it is necessary for the protection of investors, the public interest and to maintain fair and orderly markets, that documentation related to such SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company-Related Action will not be processed. In instances where the Department makes such a deficiency determination, the request to process documentation related to the SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company-Related Action, as applicable, will be closed, subject to paragraphs (d)(4) and (e) of this Rule. The Department shall make such deficiency determinations solely on the basis of one or more of the following factors: (1) FINRA staff reasonably believes the forms and all supporting documentation, in whole or in part, may not be complete, accurate or with proper authority; (2) the issuer is not current in its reporting requirements, if applicable, to the SEC or other regulatory authority; (3) FINRA has actual knowledge that the issuer, associated persons, officers, directors, transfer agent, legal adviser, promoters or other persons connected to the issuer or the SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company-Related Action are the subject of a pending, adjudicated or settled regulatory action or investigation by a federal, state or foreign regulatory agency, or a self-regulatory organization; or a civil or criminal action related to fraud or securities laws violations; (4) a state, federal or foreign authority or self-regulatory organization has provided information to FINRA, or FINRA otherwise has actual knowledge indicating that the issuer, associated persons, officers, directors, transfer agent, legal adviser, promoters or other persons connected with the issuer or the SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company-Related Action may be potentially involved in fraudulent activities related to the securities markets and/or pose a threat to public investors; and/or (5) there is significant uncertainty in the settlement and clearance process for the security.
(4) Notice Regarding Determination
If the Department determines that a request to process documentation related to a SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or a Other Company-Related Action is deficient, FINRA staff shall provide written notice to the Requesting Party. Any notice issued under this paragraph shall state the specific factor(s) that caused the request to be deemed deficient and the Requesting Party may appeal a determination pursuant to paragraph (e) of this Rule.
(5) Notice Issuance
A notice issued under this paragraph shall be issued by facsimile or electronic mail, or pursuant to Rule 9134.
(e) Request for an Appeal to Subcommittee of Uniform Practice Code Committee
A Requesting Party issued a notice under this Rule may appeal a determination made under paragraph (d)(3) of this Rule to a three-member subcommittee comprised of current or former industry members of FINRA's Uniform Practice Code Committee in writing via electronic mail, unless the parties agree to an alternative method of service, within 30 calendar days after service of the notice. Service of the appeal by electronic mail shall be deemed complete upon sending. The written request for an appeal must be accompanied by proof of payment of the non-refundable Action Determination Appeal Fee. A request for an appeal must set forth with specificity any and all defenses to the Department's determination that a request was unacceptable or otherwise deficient. An appeal to the subcommittee shall operate to stay the processing of the company-related action (i.e., the requested company-related action shall not be processed during the period that the Requesting Party requests an appeal or while any such appeal is pending). Once a written appeal has been received, the Requesting Party may submit any additional supporting written documentation via electronic mail, unless the parties agree to an alternative method, up until the time the appeal is considered by the subcommittee. The subcommittee shall convene at least once every 90 days to consider all appeals received under this Rule during the prior 90 days. The subcommittee shall render a determination within three business days following the day the appeal is considered by the subcommittee. The subcommittee's determination shall constitute final action by FINRA. The subcommittee's determination shall not constitute an estoppel as to FINRA nor bind FINRA in any subsequent administrative, civil, or disciplinary proceeding. If the Requesting Party fails to file a written request for an appeal within 30 calendar days after service of the notice by the Department, the Department's determination shall constitute final action by FINRA.
• • • Supplementary Material: --------------
.01 SEA Rule 10b-17 Fee Accumulations. In accordance with the time-frames specified in SEA Rule 10b-17, OTC issuers must provide FINRA with written notice prior to a dividend or any other distribution in cash or in kind, rights or other subscription offerings, forward stock splits, and reverse stock splits. In addition, pursuant to Rule 6490 OTC issuers must pay any applicable fees. Notwithstanding the timeliness of the SEA Rule 10b-17 Action submission or the failure to pay applicable fees, FINRA will make its best efforts to process documentation related to SEA Rule 10b-17 Actions that are not otherwise deemed incomplete or otherwise deficient by FINRA because of the critical nature of this information to the marketplace. Although FINRA may process documentation related to SEA Rule 10b-17 Actions even if a fee remains unpaid, FINRA accumulates all unpaid SEA Rule 10b-17 Action fees associated with a specific OTC issuer symbol. Regardless of the current ownership status or transaction history of an OTC issuer, FINRA will not process documentation related to Voluntary Symbol Request Changes until all unpaid accumulated late fees have been paid for the associated OTC symbol.
.02 Requests by Third-Parties. Pursuant to SEA Rule 10b-17, OTC issuers must provide FINRA with written notice generally within the time-frames specified in SEA Rule 10b-17. In certain circumstances, FINRA is contacted by a third-party, such as DTCC, foreign exchanges or regulators, members or associated persons, regarding an SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company Related Action. In such cases, FINRA requests that the third-party contact the issuer in question regarding its obligations under SEA Rule 10b-17 or other rules and regulations, as applicable, and instruct such issuer to contact FINRA directly to provide notice and complete the requisite forms. However, FINRA may in its discretion review and process an SEA Rule 10b-17 Action or Other Company-Related Action based on information from a third-party when it believes such action is necessary for the protection of the market and investors and/or FINRA has been unable to obtain notification from the issuer.