SEC.gov | SEC Charges Van Eck Associates for Failing to Disclose Influencer’s Role in Connection with ETF Launch

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that registered investment adviser Van Eck Associates Corporation has agreed to pay a $1.75 million civil penalty to settle charges that it failed to disclose a social media influencer’s role in the launch of its new exchange-traded fund (ETF).

According to the SEC’s order, in March 2021, Van Eck Associates launched the VanEck Social Sentiment ETF (NYSE:BUZZ) to track an index based on “positive insights” from social media and other data. The provider of that index informed Van Eck Associates that it planned to retain a well-known and controversial social media influencer to promote the index in connection with the launch of the ETF. To incentivize the influencer’s marketing and promotion efforts, the proposed licensing fee structure included a sliding scale linked to the size of the fund so, as the fund grew, the index provider would receive a greater percentage of the management fee the fund paid to Van Eck Associates. However, as the SEC’s order finds, Van Eck Associates failed to disclose the influencer’s planned involvement and the sliding scale fee structure to the ETF’s board in connection with its approval of the fund launch and of the management fee.

Source: SEC.gov | SEC Charges Van Eck Associates for Failing to Disclose Influencer’s Role in Connection with ETF Launch