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The Proposed Amendments to the Definition of Accredited Investor and Other Odds and Ends

Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission issued proposed amendments to conform the definition of accredited investor to the requirements of Section 413(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. As amended, the definition would read:

Any natural person whose individual net worth, or joint net worth with that person’s spouse, at the time of purchase, exceeds $1,000,000, excluding the value of the primary residence of such natural person, calculated by subtracting from the estimated fair market value of the property the amount of debt secured by the property, up to the estimated fair market value of the property.

An interesting tidbit from the footnotes of the proposing release: in fiscal year 2010 the Commission received 17,593 initial Form D filings, of those 16,856, or 96%, claimed an exemption that relies on the definition of an accredited investor.

The Commission is soliciting comments on a number of aspects of the new definition, which are due on or before March 11, 2011. Of particular note, at the Commission’s January 25, 2011 open meeting, both Commissioners Casey and Paredes expressed interested in hearing comments on whether the amended definition should “grandfather” existing investors who were accredited at the time of their initial investment, but who may no longer be accredited under the new definition, to allow those investors to make follow-on investments.

An Extension of Comment Periods

On Friday the Commission announced that it was extending the comment period for its proposed rules on disclosures related to conflict minerals, mine safety and payments made in connection with resource extractions through March 2, 2011. The original comment period was set to expire on January 31, 2011. The extension is being issued in response to several requests for additional time to “allow for the collection of information and improve the quality of responses” by interested persons. Each of the extending releases, available here, here and here, references a representative sample of letters that have made a request for additional time.

The Cost of Implementing Dodd-Frank

Also on Friday Representatives Randy Neugebauer, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and Spencer Bachus, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued a joint letter to the Commission, and several other federal agencies, seeking information regarding the estimated costs associated with implementing and executing the Dodd-Frank Act. The Commission has until February 10, 2011 to respond.

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The Commission continues to suffer from budgetary constraints and is currently operating on the basis of a continuing resolution that temporarily extends its fiscal year 2010 budget through March 4, 2011. As a result, the Commission has been forced to scale back or delay a number of Dodd-Frank initiatives, among other things.

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