United States

SEC sues Kik for its US$100m ICO

On June 4, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint against Kik Interactive, Inc. (“Kik”), which owns and operates a mobile messaging application called Kik Messenger, in connection with its 2017 initial coin offering (“ICO”) that raised over $100 million; more than $55 million of which came from U.S. investors. The SEC … Continue Reading

SEC Adopts Regulation Best Interest Increasing Broker-Dealer Standards of Care and Disclosure Obligations

On June 5, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced it had adopted a number of rulemakings and interpretations aimed at tightening the standards of care governing broker-dealers and investment advisers and clarifying the duties of broker-dealers and investment advisers in providing investment advice. Rulemaking The SEC issued two final rules: (i) the new … Continue Reading

US Senate Confirms Heath Tarbert as New CFTC Chairman

On June 5, 2019, the U.S. Senate voted 84-9 to confirm Dr. Heath P. Tarbert as the new Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”). Dr. Tarbert currently serves as the Acting Under Secretary for International Affairs for the U.S. Treasury Department. His previous government experience includes roles as Special Counsel to the Senate … Continue Reading

SEC Urges Broker-Dealers and Investment Advisors to Evaluate their Cloud-Based Storage Security Settings

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) recently noted that ineffective practices, policies, and procedures governing the use of third party cloud-based storage platforms could result in compliance issues under Regulations S-P (Safeguards Rule) and S-ID (Identity Theft Red Flag Rule). As a result, OCIE has issued a Risk … Continue Reading

Consensus New York & Blockchain week – key takeaways

Partners from our global FinTech team flew in from Hong Kong, Vancouver, London and Dallas to join our New York team to attend Consensus and Blockchain week in NYC (13-15 May).  Consensus is an annual global conference which brings together the world’s most innovative minds to explore and debate the future of blockchain and crypto. … Continue Reading

No news is good news? The SEC may be undermining innovation in FinTech

On May 9, 2019, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce delivered a speech at the Securities Enforcement Forum in East Palo Alto, California, discussing the SEC’s impact on the FinTech space and growth of the digital asset industry. Commissioner Peirce admitted her prior prediction, that the SEC would discourage the industry’s growth through hurried regulation and overenthusiastic … Continue Reading

CFTC Division of Enforcement Publishes Enforcement Manual

On May 8, 2019, the Division of Enforcement (“Division”) of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (”CFTC”) announced that it had published its Enforcement Manual (“Manual”). This is the first issuance of a public Manual. Prior to this publication, the Manual was only available internally as a general reference to the Division’s Staff during their investigation … Continue Reading

A Framework for OFAC Compliance Commitments

Yesterday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published ‘A Framework for OFAC Compliance Commitments’* in order to provide organizations subject to US jurisdiction, as well as foreign entities that conduct business in or with the United States or US persons, or that use US-origin goods or services, with a … Continue Reading

Federal Reserve Board issues proposal to clarify and simplify “control” under the Bank Holding Company Act

On April 23, 2019, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it had voted to issue a proposal for public comment that would simplify and make more transparent the standards under which the Federal Reserve Board determines that a company controls a banking organization or another company. The concept of control is important for determining if … Continue Reading

FinCEN fines peer-to-peer virtual currency exchanger for AML violations

On April 18, 2019, the U.S. anti-money laundering (“AML”) agency, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), announced that it had assessed a civil money penalty of $35,350 against Eric Powers of Kern County, California, for acting as an unregistered money services (“MSB”) business. Mr. Powers also agreed to cease engaging in any activity that might … Continue Reading

US extends economic sanctions on Venezuela to its Central Bank

On April 17, 2019, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it had designated Banco Central de Venezuela (Banco Central), the country’s Central Bank, as subject to U.S. economic sanctions. A current director also was sanctioned; several other Banco Central management and directors previously had been designated for economic sanctions. The … Continue Reading

New York denies Bittrex a virtual currency license and orders it to cease doing business in New York

A day after the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) approved its 19th application for a license or authorization to conduct a virtual currency business in New York, it issued a denial of the application of Bittrex, Inc. (Bittrex) for a DFS BitLicense and a Money Transmitter License. Bittrex had been operating a … Continue Reading

Global Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Trends for 2019

In this on-demand webinar, members of our Regulatory, Compliance and Investigations team in London, France, the US and Hong Kong give their thoughts on likely regulatory enforcement and sanctions trends for the rest of this year based on recent enforcement cases and forward looking statements from the regulators. Topics discussed include individual accountability, anti-money laundering … Continue Reading

SEC issues first no-action letter for unregulated ICO

On April 3, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued its first no-action letter related to the offering and sale of digital tokens. The beneficiary is TurnKey Jet, Inc. (“TurnKey”) which proposes to offer and sell blockchain-based digital assets in the form of “tokenized” jet cards (“Tokens”). The no-action letter, which some see as … Continue Reading

FSOC proposes revamping systemic risk designation process

On March 13, 2019, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) published in the Federal Register proposed revised interpretive guidance (Proposed Guidance) on how the FSOC would assess risks to the US financial system, prioritizing an activities-based approach, rather than focusing on identifying specific systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs), which come under the FRB’s purview for … Continue Reading

Cutting and pasting misstatements can get you nailed for securities fraud

In a decision with implications for private securities fraud suits, the United States Supreme Court recently held that an investment banker that copied and pasted misstatements from his boss into emails to prospective investors committed securities fraud, despite not being the actual “maker” of the statement, because the statement was attributed to another person. In … Continue Reading

In anticipation of Brexit, US regulators address status of certain swaps under the Swaps Margin Rule

With the next 10 days being crucial in the Brexit process, following the UK House of Commons rejecting the draft withdrawal agreement for a third time and the European Council calling an emergency summit for April 10, 2019, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) and the US banking, farm credit and housing agencies have issued … Continue Reading

U.S. Reporting Companies Must Disclose Brexit Risks

Brexit—whether it happens or not, and in what form it might (or might not) take—will shock the global marketplace. Yet despite the known unknowns in these tumultuous times, there is one certainty for public reporting companies in the United States: Brexit risks must be disclosed. On March 15, 2019, William Hinman, Director of the SEC’s … Continue Reading

Paying (or not) fees on registered US patents and trademarks in Venezuela in cryptocurrency

Last month, the Venezuelan Ministry of National Commerce issued a notice requiring patent and trademark fees to be paid in the cryptocurrency issued by the Venezuelan government — the Petro, which supposedly is backed by Venezuela’s oil and mineral reserves. As noted in previous posts, the United States has been increasing its economic sanctions on … Continue Reading

Changing securities laws and regulations for the digital token age

While federal courts last year recognized that virtual currencies based on blockchain platforms could qualify as securities and/or commodities, there has been some concern that these regulatory structures may not fit all digital tokens under all circumstances. In a recent New York Law Journal column, Robert Schwinger, a partner in the New York office of … Continue Reading

Brexit: Doing business in the EU – Updated

Recent updates Belgium: 10 April 2019 We have produced a colour coded heat map and table identifying the temporary emergency measures being implemented in EEA jurisdictions, and how financial services provides can benefit from these measures. We recommend that this resource be read in conjunction with this article. You will find our heat map and table … Continue Reading

Implementation of international standards can have collateral consequences

Non-financial commercial companies often secure their derivatives transactions with financial institutions in a manner other than posting cash margin, such as by granting liens on a commercial end-user’s assets. A proposed regulation from the US federal banking regulators to revise risk-based capital rules regarding derivatives in order to implement an international standard may have the … Continue Reading

New virtual currency bills introduced in the U.S. Congress

Two new bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of January aimed at recommending possible legislative changes to regulate and promote virtual currencies, also known as cryptocurrencies. The first bill, H.R. 922, Virtual Currency Consumer Protection Act of 2019 aims to promote fair and transparent virtual currency markets by examining … Continue Reading
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