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BlackRock fined $2.5M by SEC for incorrect investment disclosure

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The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has fined investment adviser BlackRock Advisors $2.5 million, accusing it of failing to accurately describe investments in the entertainment industry that comprised a significant portion of a publicly traded fund it managed.

According to the SEC’s filing, between 2015 and 2019, BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust (BIT) made sizeable investments in a print and advertising business called Aviron Group that worked on one to two films annually through a loan facility.

The SEC alleged that BlackRock incorrectly referred to Aviron as a company that provided “Diversified Financial Services” in a number of BIT’s annual and semi-annual reports that were made available to investors publicly. The SEC also alleged that BlackRock misrepresented Aviron’s interest rate by claiming that it was higher than it actually was. However, the asset manager discovered these errors in 2019 and corrected information about Aviron’s investment in the following years.

Andrew Dean, co-chief of the enforcement division’s asset management unit at the SEC, said that the investment advisers have a responsibility to provide accurate vital information about the assets of the funds it manages, and “BlackRock failed to do so with the Aviron investment.”

BlackRock agreed to pay the $2.5-million penalty for the incorrect investment disclosure agreement. Although the investment was unrelated to the crypto ecosystem, the world’s largest asset manager has been in the crypto spotlight for its proposed spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Related: Bitcoin ETF to trigger massive demand from institutions, EY says

The SEC’s charges against BlackRock for investment discourse failure came on the same day as its spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) was noticed listed on the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) listing prompting many to believe the spot Bitcoin approval is near.

iShares Bitcoin ETF listing on DTCC. Source: DTCC

Senior Bloomberg ETF analyst Eric Balchunas called the DTCC listing “all part of the process” of bringing a crypto ETF to market. However, within hours of the DTCC listing, the spot Bitcoin ETF was removed from the platform and reappeared within hours, creating confusion among the crypto community. However, a DTCC spokesperson later confirmed that the iShares Bitcoin ETF has been listed on the platform since August and said the move is not indicative of any regulatory approval.

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