Senate Bill 131
152nd General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 6, CHAPTER 73 OF THE DELAWARE CODE TO HARMONIZE WITH FEDERAL LAW, MODERNIZE, AND CLARIFY CERTAIN PROVISIONS.
This bill updates and clarifies certain provisions that have been confusing or otherwise problematic in the Investor Protection Unit’s enforcement efforts, or have otherwise become out-of-synch with federal securities law. The term “Commissioner” is a holdover from when the Investor Protection Unit was called the Securities Unit, and is no longer the correct term. It is replaced with “Director” to be consistent throughout the Act. In order to ensure consistency throughout the Act and create certainty as the applicability of rules issued pursuant to the Act, the phrase “or any rule or order hereunder” has been added after “this chapter” where it was missing. This clarifies that the Rules and orders are enforceable regardless of which statutory provision is implicated by an administrative action. This bill provides a definition of “willful” that tracks the federal definition as used in federal law and in the 1956 Uniform Securities Act, on which the Delaware Securities Act was originally patterned. The Uniform Securities Act of 1956, as amended, explains in the official code comment that “As the federal courts and the SEC have construed the term “willfully” in § 15(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. § 78o(b): all that is required is proof that the person acted intentionally in the sense that he was aware of what he was doing. Proof of evil motive or intent to violate the law, or knowledge that the law was being violated, is not required. The principal function of the word “willfully” is thus to serve as a legislative hint of self-restraint to the Administrator.” Similarly, the definition of “security” is revised to clarify that an analysis of whether an instrument is a security should be a substance over form analysis, following the approach under federal law. Section 73-209, concerning false filings, was moved to new section 73-104 to clarify its applicability to the entire Delaware Securities Act. The heading of Section 73-201 was changed from “Fraud” to “Employment of manipulative and deceptive devices” to harmonize with that of a similar provision from the Securities Act of 1934. Section 73-207(d) was amended to clarify its applicability to securities exemptions. Section 73- 208(g) was removed as it is no longer effective. Various subsections of Section 73-302 were amended to establish clarity as to the timeline for registrations and to prevent the inadvertent approval of a registration under review by the Investor Protection Unit. Section 73-304(a)(6) is being revised to add additional securities regulators to the list of entities whose orders can be considered when determining whether to take action concerning a registrant or applicant’s registration status. Section 73-305(c)(1), which prohibits investment adviser fees based on a percentage of capital gains, is amended to allow for such fees if approved by a rule or order of the Director. This brings Delaware into harmony with federal practice, since the SEC has started allowing such a fee structure under certain circumstances, subject to periodic review of the policy. Section 73-601 is amended to clarify that there is no aggregation of violations when determining the imposition of fines; that a party seeking a hearing on a summary order must provide an answer in writing; and adds freezing accounts to the list of actions the Unit may take, which may be helpful in dealing with the increase in cryptocurrency fraud. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.