(a) Under the federal securities laws, including section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (15 U.S.C. 77q(a)) and section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78j(b)) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder (17 CFR part 240), it is unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, by the use of any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce or of the mails, to use sales literature which is materially misleading in connection with the offer or sale of securities issued by an investment company. Under these provisions, sales literature is materially misleading if it: (1) Contains an untrue statement of a material fact or (2) omits to state a material fact necessary in order to make a statement made, in the light of the circumstances of its use, not misleading.
(b) Whether or not a particular description, representation, illustration, or other statement involving a material fact is misleading depends on evaluation of the context in which it is made. In considering whether a particular statement involving a material fact is or might be misleading, weight should be given to all pertinent factors, including, but not limited to, those listed below.
(1) A Statement could be misleading because of:
(i) Other statements being made in connection with the offer of sale or sale of the securities in question;
(ii) The absence of explanations, qualifications, limitations or other statements necessary or appropriate to make such statement not misleading; or
(iii) General economic or financial conditions or circumstances.
(2) Representations about past or future investment performance could be misleading because of statements or omissions made involving a material fact, including situations where:
(i) Portrayals of past income, gain, or growth of assets convey an impression of the net investment results achieved by an actual or hypothetical investment which would not be justified under the circumstances, including portrayals that omit explanations, qualifications, limitations, or other statements necessary or appropriate to make the portrayals not misleading; and
(ii) Representations, whether express or implied, about future investment performance, including:
(A) Representations, as to security of capital, possible future gains or income, or expenses associated with an investment;
(B) Representations implying that future gain or income may be inferred from or predicted based on past investment performance; or
(C) Portrayals of past performance, made in a manner which would imply that gains or income realized in the past would be repeated in the future.
(3) A statement involving a material fact about the characteristics or attributes of an investment company could be misleading because of:
(i) Statements about possible benefits connected with or resulting from services to be provided or methods of operation which do not give equal prominence to discussion of any risks or limitations associated therewith;
(ii) Exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims about management skill or techniques, characteristics of the investment company or an investment in securities issued by such company, services, security of investment or funds, effects of government supervision, or other attributes; and
(iii) Unwarranted or incompletely explained comparisons to other investment vehicles or to indexes.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term sales literature shall be deemed to include any communication (whether in writing, by radio, or by television) used by any person to offer to sell or induce the sale of securities of any investment company. Communications between issuers, underwriters and dealers are included in this definition of sales literature if such communications, or the information contained therein, can be reasonably expected to be communicated to prospective investors in the offer or sale of securities or are designed to be employed in either written or oral form in the offer or sale of securities.
[44 FR 64072, Nov. 6, 1979, as amended at 68 FR 57777, Oct. 6, 2003]
Title 17 published on 2014-04-01
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