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Notice

Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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Upon written request, copies available from: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, Washington, DC 20549-0213.

Extension:

Rule 15g-2; SEC File No. 270-381; OMB Control No. 3235-0434.

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) is soliciting comments on the collection of information summarized below. The Commission plans to submit this existing collection of information to the Office of Management and Budget for extension and approval.

The “Penny Stock Disclosure Rules” (Rule 15g-2, 17 CFR 240.15g-2) require broker-dealers to provide their customers with a risk disclosure document, as set forth in Schedule 15G, prior to their first non-exempt transaction in a “penny stock.” As amended, the rule requires broker-dealers to obtain written acknowledgement from the customer that he or she has received the required risk disclosure document. The amended rule also requires broker-dealers to maintain a copy of the customer's written acknowledgement for at least three years following the date on which the risk disclosure document was provided to the customer, the first two years in an accessible place.

The risk disclosure documents are for the benefit of the customers, to assure that they are aware of the risks of trading in “penny stocks” before they enter into a transaction. The risk disclosure documents are maintained by the broker-dealers and may be reviewed during the course of an examination by the Commission.

There are approximately 253 broker-dealers that could potentially be subject to current Rule 15g-2. The Commission estimates that approximately 5% of registered broker-dealers are engaged in penny stock transactions, and thereby subject to the Rule (5% × approximately 5,063 registered broker-dealers = 253 broker-dealers). The Commission estimates that each one of these firms processes an average of three new customers for penny stocks per week. Thus, each respondent processes approximately 156 penny stock disclosure documents per year. If communications in tangible form alone are used to satisfy the requirements of Rule 15g-2, then the copying and mailing of the penny stock disclosure document takes no more than two minutes. Thus, the total associated burden is approximately 2 minutes per response, or an aggregate total of 312 minutes per respondent. Since there are 253 respondents, the current annual burden is 78,936 minutes (312 minutes per each of the 253 respondents) or 1,316 hours for this third party disclosure burden. In addition, broker-dealers incur a recordkeeping burden of approximately two minutes per response when filing the completed penny stock disclosure documents as required pursuant to the Rule 15(g)(2)(c), which requires a broker-dealer to preserve a copy of the written acknowledgement pursuant to Rule 17a-4(b) of the Exchange Act,. Since there are approximately 156 responses for each respondent, the respondents incur an aggregate recordkeeping burden of 78,936 minutes (253 respondents × 156 responses for each × 2 minutes per response) or 1,316 hours, under Rule 15g-2. Accordingly, the current aggregate annual hour burden associated with Rule 15g-2 (that is, assuming that all respondents provide tangible copies of the required documents) is approximately 2,632 hours (1,316 third party disclosure hours + 1,316 recordkeeping hours).

The burden hours associated with Rule 15g-2 may be slightly reduced when the penny stock disclosure document required under the rule is provided through electronic means such as e-mail from the broker-dealer (e.g., the broker-dealer respondent may take only one minute, instead of the two minutes estimated above, to provide the penny stock disclosure document by e-mail to its customer). In this regard, if each of the customer respondents estimated above communicates with his or her broker-dealer electronically, the total ongoing respondent burden is approximately 1 minute per response, or an aggregate total of 156 minutes (156 customers × 1 minutes per respondent). Assuming 253 respondents, the annual third party disclosure burden, if electronic communications were used by all customers, is 39,468 minutes (156 minutes per each of the 253 respondents) or 658 hours. If all respondents were to use electronic means, the recordkeeping burden is 78,936 minutes or 1,316 hours (the same as above). Thus, if all broker-dealer respondents obtain and send the documents required under the rules electronically, the aggregate annual hour burden associated with Rule 15g-2 is 1,974 (658 hours + 1,316 hours).

In addition, if the penny stock customer requests a paper copy of the information on the Commission's Web site regarding microcap securities, including penny stocks, from his or her broker-dealer, the printing and mailing of the document containing this information takes no more than two minutes per customer. Because many investors have access to the Commission's Web site via computers located in their homes, or in easily accessible public places such as libraries, then, at most, a quarter of customers who are required to receive the Rule 15g-2 disclosure document request that their broker-dealer provide them with the additional microcap and penny stock information posted on the Commission's Web site. Thus, each broker-dealer respondent processes approximately 39 requests for paper copies of this information per year or an aggregate total of 78 minutes per respondent (2 minutes per customer × 39 requests per respondent). Since there are 253 respondents, the estimated annual burden is 19,734 minutes (78 minutes per each of the 253 respondents) or 329 hours. This is a third party disclosure type of burden.

We have no way of knowing how many broker-dealers and customers will choose to communicate electronically. Assuming that 50 percent of respondents continue to provide documents and obtain signatures in tangible form and 50 percent choose to communicate electronically to satisfy the requirements of Rule 15g-2, the total aggregate burden hours is 3,948 ((aggregate burden hours for documents and signatures in tangible form × 0.50 of the respondents = 1,316 hours) + (aggregate burden hours for electronically signed and transmitted documents × 0.50 of the respondents = 987 hours) + (aggregate burden hours for recordkeeping of tangible documents × 0.50 of the respondents = 658) + (aggregate burden hours for Start Printed Page 37382recordkeeping of electronically filed documents = 658) + (329 burden hours for those customers making requests for a copy of the information on the Commission's Web site)).

Written comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted in writing within 60 days of this publication.

The Commission may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid control number. No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the PRA that does not display a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number.

Comments should be directed to: Thomas Bayer, Chief Information Officer, Securities and Exchange Commission, C/O Remi Pavlik-Simon, 6432 General Green Way, Alexandria, Virginia 22312 or send an e-mail to: PRA_Mailbox@sec.gov. Comments must be submitted within 60 days of this notice.

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June 21, 2011.

Cathy H. Ahn,

Deputy Secretary.

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[FR Doc. 2011-16006 Filed 6-24-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P