SEC Brings Enforcement Action Against City of Harrisburg, PA for Securities Fraud in Connection with Municipal Bond Sales

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has charged the City of Harrisburg, PA with securities fraud in connection with its issuance of municipal bonds.  According to the SEC’s press release:

[The] SEC investigation found that the misleading statements were made in the city’s budget report, annual and mid-year financial statements, and a State of the City address. This marks the first time that the SEC has charged a municipality for misleading statements made outside of its securities disclosure documents. Harrisburg has agreed to settle the charges.

The SEC found that Harrisburg failed to comply with requirements to provide certain ongoing financial information and audited financial statements for the benefit of investors holding hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds issued or guaranteed by the city. As a result of Harrisburg’s non-compliance from 2009 to 2011, investors had to seek out Harrisburg’s other public statements in order to obtain current information about the city’s finances. However, very little information about the city’s fiscal situation was publicly available elsewhere. Information that was accessible on the city’s website such as its 2009 budget, 2009 State of the City address, and 2009 mid-year fiscal report either misstated or failed to disclose critical information about Harrisburg’s financial condition and credit ratings.

(Emphasis added).

See In the Matter of THE CITY OF HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA, SEC Release No. 69515 (May 6, 2013).