Enforcement of a relatively new rule of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has resulted in significant fees in 2011 for small issuers with securities traded over-the-counter (OTC), such as some community banks. FINRA Rule 6490 requires issuers to provide notice to FINRA of certain company-related actions, such as dividends and stock splits, or face a $5,000 fee, which some might characterize as a fine.

FINRA’s ability to charge issuers is new as of 2010, and is a significant departure from FINRA’s historically ministerial role with respect to issuers. FINRA primarily oversees broker-dealer member firms, but it also performs certain functions for issuers of OTC securities. For example, it reviews and processes requests to announce or publish certain actions by issuers of OTC securities and maintains the symbols database for OTC securities. …