Photo of Robert E. Plaze

Robert Plaze advises investment advisers, investment companies, hedge funds, private equity funds and their service providers on regulatory and compliance issues under the federal securities laws. Following nearly 30 years in the SEC’s Division of Investment Management, most recently as Deputy Director, Bob is a partner in Proskauer’s Registered Funds Group.

At the SEC, Bob was responsible for policy development and management of the key regulatory initiatives affecting investment companies and investment advisers, including rules governing fund and adviser compliance programs, money market funds, fund corporate governance, personal trading, custody and brokerage practices, prohibitions on “pay to play” practices, and protection of investor privacy. After the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, Bob was responsible for rulemaking requiring advisers to private funds to register with the SEC, providing new exemptions from registration and requiring reporting by certain exempt advisers.

Bob’s comprehensive outline of the SEC’s regulation of investment advisers is relied on by lawyers and compliance professionals throughout the industry.

On January 10, 2024, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an order approving the applications of 11 different spot Bitcoin exchange‑traded products (the “Approved ETPs”) to each list and trade their shares on a national securities exchange. As a result, each Approved ETP is expected to commence trading on

On February 26, 2020, the Security and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Division of Examinations (the “Division”) published a Risk Alert, “The Division of Examinations’ Continued Focus on Digital Asset Securities.” In the Risk Alert, the Division offered insight into its current examination focus with respect to the activities of market participants, including investment advisers, concerning digital assets that are securities (“Digital Asset Securities”) and distributed ledger technologies.

The Alert outlines the observations of the Division, which were the product of examinations of investment advisers, broker-dealers, and transfer agents and their use of Digital Asset Securities. At only eight pages, the Alert is not an exhaustive compliance document for market participants and does not detail explicitly how firms might remain in compliance with securities laws and regulations.  The Division’s outline of the risks it has observed from recent examinations is, however, a useful roadmap, outlining the areas of focus for the Division’s future examinations and compelling firms to take another look at their relevant compliance practices.  It also raises some questions about the scope of the applicability of federal securities to digital assets that have yet to be explored.

The SEC announced a pair of settled orders on Tuesday extending additional provisions of the securities laws over ICOs and other digital assets – the agency’s first ever enforcement actions of their kind. As the SEC has been suggesting for over a year, because digital assets offered and sold in initial coin offerings (“ICOs”) are likely to fall under the definition of securities, businesses that invest in them, or that offer, sell or trade them need to consider their obligations under the Investment Company Act, the Advisers Act and the Securities Act.

The CFTC and SEC made numerous headlines Friday in their ongoing efforts to provide regulatory oversight of cryptocurrency markets. The CFTC announced the filing of two civil enforcement actions against allegedly fraudulent cryptocurrency-related investment schemes. The SEC’s Division of Investment Management, meanwhile, issued a letter raising concerns about registered investment companies’ (including ETFs’) investments in cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-related assets. And the SEC and CFTC issued a joint statement emphasizing their collective aim to root out fraud in the offer and sale of digital instruments, regardless of whether such instruments are classified as digital “currency,” “tokens,” or otherwise.