Politics & Government

Hilton Head, Columbia charged with federal reporting violation

HiltonHead

The Town of Hilton Head Island and the City of Columbia are among dozens of states, cities, schools and other entities charged with misleading investors, federal regulators announced Wednesday.

The charges stem from misleading or false statements made in regard to the issuance of municipals bonds and securities, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents.

For the benefit of those investing in municipal bonds, the Town of Hilton Head Island was required “to submit annual financial information ... within certain time frames, as well as timely notices of certain specified events pertaining to the municipal securities being offered,” SEC documents say.

During a 2013 municipal bond offering, the town told investors it had filed prior financial reports with regulatory agencies in a timely fashion. But, “this was misleading because (the town) filed its comprehensive annual reports for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 late by 288 days and 43 days, respectively,” the SEC documents say.

The town “knew or should have known that these statements were untrue,” according to the SEC.

The town self-reported the violations to the SEC as part of the agency’s Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation Initiative.

As part of the initiative, parties that self-report violations “would receive favorable settlement terms,” according to a town news release.

So long as the financial disclosure policies are updated and officials continue cooperating with the SEC’s investigators, the matter is considered settled, the regulating agency’s documents say.

In settling the matter with the SEC, the Hilton Head Island “neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings,” nor is the town “subject to any civil or criminal penalty or fine,” according to the town release.

The town “has been and remains fully committed to cooperating with the SEC’s efforts to ensure continuing disclosure in an appropriate and timely manner in connection with publicly traded bond issues,” the release said.

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