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5 Tips for Tech Companies to Avoid SEC Scrutiny

January 24, 2019

Fenwick securities enforcement co-chair Michael Dicke spoke with Law360 about best practices for technology companies amidst increased SEC scrutiny of initial coin offerings and cybersecurity issues.

Dicke, formerly the head of enforcement for the SEC’s San Francisco regional office, encouraged both companies and their service providers like public relations firms to be aware of any applicable rules.

For example, a PR firm helping with an ICO may be caught up in an SEC investigation, Dicke told Law360. If the ICO is found to be fraudulent or improperly registered, those publicizing the offering could be charged with aiding and abetting or causing a violation if their actions contributed to the wrongdoing in any way. Additionally, promoters may also face charges of improper disclosures or need to respond to subpoenas which may require them to engage a law firm to assist.

Dicke also urged companies to be proactive, noting that hiring compliance professionals can help prevent problems, as well as mitigate any issues that do arise.

"It creates a defense later on, if there is a regulator looking at your actions, to say, 'Look, I got legal advice,' or 'I went to this consultant who works in this area, and they told me to do these three things, and I did them,'" Dicke said.

The full article is available through Law360 (subscription required).

To learn more about recent SEC activity, see Dicke’s recent articles on the Blockvest decision and the SEC’s first ever enforcement actions against cryptocurrency firms for failing to register as a broker-dealer and investment company.