SEC on Wahed Invest LLC (2022): Order Instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings, Pursuant to Sections 203(e) and 203(k) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, Making Findings, and Imposing Remedial Sanctions and a Cease-and-Desist Order

In this review and order to address noncompliant investment practices, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission determined that the New York-based robo-adviser Wahed Invest, LLC had made misleading statements on investments, breached its fiduciary duty to investors, and failed to comply with the law related to its sharīʿa advisory business. According to the SEC’s review, from September 2018 through July 2019, Wahed Invest advertised the existence of its own proprietary funds when no such funds existed, and the firm further promised investors that it would periodically rebalance their advisory accounts but did not do so. The SEC’s order also found that when Wahed Invest ultimately launched a proprietary Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) in July 2019, it used its clients’ advisory assets to seed the ETF without prior disclosure to those clients of any conflicts of interest. The order further found that Wahed Invest marketed itself as providing advisory services compliant with sharīʿa, or Islamic law, including marketing the importance of its income purification process on its website. Despite these representations, the review board determined that Wahed Invest did not adopt and implement written policies and procedures addressing how it would assure sharīʿa compliance on an ongoing basis. Wahed Invest consented to the entry of the SEC’s order finding that the firm violated Sections 206(2) and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rules 206(4)-1(a) and 206(4)-7; the firm further agreed to the Commission’s cease-and-desist order, to pay a $300,000 penalty, and to retain an independent compliance consultant, among other requirements.

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