Articles Tagged with BlackRock

Asset Manager Accused of Operating ETF Without Necessary Exemption

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said that BlackRock Fund Advisors (BLK) will pay $1.5M to resolve charges accusing the asset manager of advising an exchange-traded fund to violate the Investment Company Act. BlackRock ran the Russia Fund ETF with out the necessary exemptive order from 12/2010 to 1/2015. The exemptive order is necessary because there are some ETF traits that would cause the fund and dealers to violate the Act were it not for having an order.

According to the Commission, BlackRock was notified in 2011 that the exemptive relief that had been issued to other investment companies that it advised could not be applied to funds that were organized separately. Despite knowing this, BlackRock is said to have kept running the ETF without the necessary exemption. It wasn’t until 2015 when, after more talks with the SEC, that the asset manager merged the Russia Fund ETF with another investment company that it advised. It could then apply another acquired exemptive relief to the Russia Fund ETF.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that BlackRock Inc. (BLK) will pay $340K to settle civil charges accusing the New York-based asset manager of improperly utilizing separation agreements to get employees leaving the firm to waive their ability to receive an award as a whistleblower. BlackRock consented to the order brought by the regulator but did not deny or admit to the findings that it was in violation of any rules.

The SEC claims that over 1,000 BlackRock employees who exited the firm signed separation agreement that included language declaring that they were waiving any right to incentives that could be gained from reporting misconduct. The employees were required to sign these agreements if they wanted to receive any separation payments that BlackRock would owe them after their departure.

This waiver provision was added to BlackRock’s separation agreement in 2011 after the Commission had already put in place its Whistleblower Program rules. The firm continued to use the waiver with the agreements until early last year.

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In a preliminary ruling, The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it expects to reject BlackRock Inc.’s (BLK) proposal to put out a nontransparent exchange-traded fund. BlackRock sought permission to sell the ETF from the regulator in 2011.

The fund wants to keep its investments secret, which go against SEC rules. BlackRock proposed using a blind trust to manage the securities of a portfolio without revealing the contents. It sought exemption from the agency’s rules, which mandate that disclosure be provided daily. Instead, BlackRock would have disclosed its holdings with the nontransparent ETF on a quarterly basis. One reason that certain fund managers are pushing for less frequent disclosure is their worry that daily disclosures could allow investors to imitate the trades.

Now, however, the SEC is saying that without portfolio transparency such as a plan does not guarantee that that the ETF would trade consistently or near net asset value. The regulator said that the proposed structure sets up substantive risk that ETF share market prices might materially deviate from the ETF’s NAV/share, especially during stressful periods in the market. This could “inflict substantial cost on investors,” noted the Commission.

BlackRock Inc. (BLK) wants a judge to dismiss a securities lawsuit accusing the money manager of charging exorbitant fees and breaching its fiduciary duties. Lawyers for the firm argued that the claims have no merit in the U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey.

The investor plaintiffs, including a Florida investment adviser who won the lottery, contend that BlackRock’s subsidiaries collected excessive fees for services provided to Equity Dividend Fund (MDDVX), worth almost $30 billion, and their Global Allocation Fund, (MDLOX), worth close to $59 billion. They say that they lost millions of dollars because of excessive fees.

However, reports InvestmentNews, according to one of the lawyers representing BlackRock, the complaint does not properly acknowledge the fund’s size or allege facts adequate enough to plausibly demonstrate that the fees are unreasonable, especially considering the services that were provided.

Timothy C. Davidson, a Florida investment adviser, is suing BlackRock (BLK). He says the money manager and other defendants breached their fiduciary duty by charging disproportionately high investment advisory fees for the BlackRock Global Allocation Fund (MDLOX). He says that the excessive fees had “no reasonable relationship” to the services that the firm provided.

Because of the alleged wrongdoing, Davidson contends, BlackRock Advisors was able to keep most of the benefits that stemmed from a growth in assets that were under management without properly sharing these with the fund or shareholders. The investment advisor also says that the fund’s board did not behave “conscientiously” when it approved markups and fees and this breaches certain obligations under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

The BlackRock Global Allocation Fund manages about $60 billion. Davidson said that a trust he helped establish owned $1 million of shares in the fund’s institutional share class. (David helped form the trust after he bought a lottery ticket that won the Powerball in 2011.)

According to InvestmentNews, some of the largest asset managers in the world are complaining that draft proposals for identifying financial institutions besides insurers and banks that may be too big to fail would employ an erroneous analysis of the investment industry. Fidelity Investment, Pacific Investment Management Co.(PIMCO), BlackRock Inc. (BLK), and others wrote written responses to a consultation made by international standard setters. Pimco, whose response was published on the International Organization of Securities Commission’s web site, called the blue print “fundamentally flawed,” saying that it failed to accurately show the risks involving the asset management industry or investment funds.

The proposals regarding too-big-to fail come after efforts by global regulators in the Financial Stability Board to rank insurers and banks according to their potential to trigger a worldwide financial meltdown. Under the plans published earlier this year by Iosco and FSB, investment funds with assets greater than $100 billion could be given the too big to fail label. The proposals are also suggesting possibly making asset managers that oversee with big funds subject to additional rules.

However, BlackRock, in its consultation response, is arguing that a fund’s size isn’t a sign of systemic risk and many of the biggest funds are not likely to pose issues of systemic risk. It also contends that concentrating on asset managers is the ‘wrong approach” seeing as they are “dramatically less susceptible” to getting into financial distress than other financial institutions. BlackRock is one of the firms that believes that international standard setters should instead put their attention on figuring out which activities could prove systematically essential rather than trying to label certain funds and asset managers as too big to fail.