BlackRock Charged By SEC With Failing to Disclose Conflict of Interest
Washington D.C., April 20,
2015 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged BlackRock Advisors LLC with breaching its fiduciary duty by failing to disclose a conflict of interest created by the outside business activity of a top-performing portfolio manager.
BlackRock agreed to settle the charges and pay a $12 million penalty. The firm also must engage an independent compliance consultant to conduct an internal review.
According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding, Daniel J. Rice III was managing energy-focused funds and separately managed accounts at BlackRock when he founded Rice Energy, a family-owned and operated oil-and-natural gas company. Rice was the general partner of Rice Energy and personally invested approximately $50 million in the company. Rice Energy later formed a joint venture with a publicly-traded coal company that eventually became the largest holding (almost 10 percent) in the $1.7 billion BlackRock Energy & Resources Portfolio, the largest Rice-managed fund. The SEC’s order finds that BlackRock knew and approved of Rice’s investment and involvement with Rice Energy as well as the joint venture, but failed to disclose this conflict of interest to either the boards of the BlackRock registered funds or its advisory clients.
Click here to read the SEC Press Release in its entirety