United States

Topic: Enforcement

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SEC takes aim at digital tokens and smart contracts

On the heels of the first-ever judicial holding this past summer that a cryptocurrency could qualify as a “security” under federal securities laws, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has brought a wave of new enforcement actions targeting blockchain-based digital token ventures under a variety of provisions in the securities laws. In a recent New … Continue Reading

US strengthens economic sanctions on Venezuela

On January 28, 2019, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) added Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., Venezuela’s state-owned oil company and a primary source of the country’s income and foreign currency, to its list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”). Norton Rose Fulbright has prepared a … Continue Reading

Sanctions and Supply Chains: e.l.f. Cosmetics, Inc. pays nearly USD 1 million to settle North Korea sanctions violations

A US-based cosmetics company, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Inc. (ELF), has reached a USD 996,080 settlement with the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for importing 156 shipments of false eyelash kits containing materials sourced from North Korea in apparent violation of the North Korea Sanctions Regulations. The materials were supplied by two of ELF’s China-based … Continue Reading

Broker-dealers can continue to rely on investment advisers for customer KYC requirements

In a December 12, 2018, letter to a US trade association with members that include broker-dealers in securities (“broker-dealers”), the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) extended its no-action relief to broker-dealers who wish to rely on investment advisers to perform the broker-dealer’s obligations under US federal anti-money laundering (“AML”) customer identification program and beneficial … Continue Reading

Transition period under New York cybersecurity regulation ends March 1, 2019

The two-year transitional period under the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) Cybersecurity Regulation, 23 NYCRR 500 (the “Regulation”), will expire on March 1, 2019, with the final remaining requirement becoming effective. Entities covered by the Regulation that utilize third party service providers, which include not only banks and insurers, but also other … Continue Reading

Banking agencies and FinCEN encourage innovative efforts by banks to combat money laundering and terrorist financing

On December 3, 2018, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), (collectively, the “Agencies”) issued a joint statement (“Joint Statement”) urging banks to consider, evaluate and potentially implement … Continue Reading

US economic sanctions also affect non-US companies

Over the last few months, US economic sanctions have taken the front pages as the Trump Administration has reinstated certain sanctions aimed at Iran following the United States withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). While the so-called “snapback” reinstated sanctions provisions increase the risk for non-US companies, recent enforcement actions against non-US … Continue Reading

SEC issues statement on digital asset securities issuance, investment and trading

On November 16, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a statement on the application of federal securities laws to the issuance and trading of, and investment in, digital asset securities. While the statement encourages technological innovations that benefit investors and capital markets, it emphasizes that market participants must still adhere to federal securities … Continue Reading

SEC announces first enforcement action against EtherDelta for operating an unregistered exchange for ERC20 digital tokens

On November 8, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it settled charges against Zachary Coburn, founder of EtherDelta, a digital token trading platform, for operating an unregistered national securities exchange. This is the SEC’s first enforcement action based on findings that a digital token trading platform operated as an unregistered national securities … Continue Reading

Iranian sanctions re-imposed and in full effect

As of November 5, 2018, all of the US sanctions that were lifted or waived in connection with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2016 nuclear deal among the United States and its allies and Iran, have been re-imposed and are in full effect. As a result, non-US companies can be subject to … Continue Reading

CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz warns smart contract code developers may be held liable for violations of CFTC regulations

On October 16, 2018, Commissioner Brian Quintenz of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) shared his views on smart contract regulation by the CFTC. In his speech at the 38th Annual GITEX Technology Week Conference, in discussing a hypothetical where code in a smart contract was specifically designed to enable a type of activity regulated … Continue Reading

Regulators bring enforcement actions against 1pool Ltd.

On September 27, 2018, both the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) filed charges against Marshall Islands-based firm 1pool Ltd. (“1pool”) and its Austria-based CEO and owner, Patrick Brunner, for (i) failing to register as a security-based swaps dealer with the SEC, (ii) failing to register as a futures … Continue Reading

CFTC Chair hails the accomplishments of the past year’s enforcement program

On October 2, 2018, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo spoke before the Economic Club of Minnesota, giving a detailed overview of the CFTC’s enforcement program for fiscal year 2017 (Oct. 2017 – Sept. 2018), entitling his remarks “Regulatory Enforcement & Healthy Markets: Perfect Together!” The CFTC’s enforcement program filed 83 actions … Continue Reading

CFTC’s Giancarlo’s Cross-Border White Paper 2.0 signals upcoming rule proposals to replace cross-border guidance

On October 1, 2018, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (“CFTC”) Chairman, J. Christopher Giancarlo released a White Paper entitled, “Cross-Border Swaps Regulation Version 2.0: A Risk-Based Approach with Deference to Comparable Non-U.S. Regulation” (“Cross-Border White Paper 2.0”). Chairman Giancarlo intends to direct the CFTC staff to put forth new rule proposals, which if adopted, would … Continue Reading

CFTC proposes process on exempting non-US derivative clearing organizations

On August 8, 2018, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking, which if adopted as proposed, would set out the policies and procedures for clearing organizations located outside of the United States to follow if they want to obtain an exemption from registration as a derivatives clearing organization (DCO). … Continue Reading

Compliance date for next set of DFS cybersecurity regulations is September 4, 2018

On August 8, 2018, the Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services issued a reminder to DFS-regulated financial services businesses that starting September 4, 2018, they were required to be in compliance with the next set of requirements in the DFS cybersecurity regulations located at Part 500 of the New York State … Continue Reading

New York State finalizes regulation requiring registration of consumer credit reporting agencies

On June 25, 2018, New York State announced adoption of final Department of Financial Services (DFS) regulations that require consumer credit reporting agencies to register with the DFS. Our blog post on the regulations as proposed last fall can be found here. There were some clarifying changes to the requirements but the basic objectives of registration, … Continue Reading

More guidance on the new FinCEN “beneficial ownership” rule

In May 2016, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the U.S. agency tasked with issuing anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, issued a final rule requiring that certain categories of financial institutions identify the beneficial owners of their legal entity customers and incorporate customer due diligence procedures into their required AML compliance programs. The regulation was effective … Continue Reading

FinCEN offers additional guidance on the “beneficial ownership rule”

In May 2016, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the U.S. agency tasked with issuing anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, issued a final rule requiring that certain categories of financial institutions identify the beneficial owners of their legal entity customers and incorporate customer due diligence procedures into their required AML compliance programs. The regulation was effective … Continue Reading

FTC temporarily halts four cryptocurrency chain referral schemes

On March 16, 2018, a federal US District Court judge in Florida unsealed a March 12, 2018, temporary restraining order he had granted at the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against four individuals and their companies, relating to allegedly deceptive acts or practices involving cryptocurrencies. The order is set to expire on March … Continue Reading

Supreme Court holds individuals must report to the SEC to qualify as whistleblowers under Dodd-Frank

On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, the US Supreme Court resolved a circuit split by unanimously holding that an employee must report suspected securities law violations to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in order to qualify as a whistleblower entitled to protection from retaliation under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act … Continue Reading

February 15 deadline looms for first DFS Cybersecurity Certification

February 15, 2018, is quickly approaching and any entity subject to New York’s cybersecurity regulation (23 NYCRR Part 500) must file its first annual certification of compliance with the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) by that date. New York imposes cybersecurity requirements on all entities (covered entities) subject to the jurisdiction of … Continue Reading

SEC provides some relief in connection with MiFID II research payment requirements

Europe’s revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II), effective  January 3, 2018, makes a number of important regulatory changes concerning the delivery of financial services and products. A number of these changes have an extraterritorial element that can have a significant impact on US firms. A particularly contentious area has been how European Union … Continue Reading

November 2 Norton Rose Fulbright New York briefing to focus on SEC/CFTC Enforcement Trends

Norton Rose Fulbright New York office’s next financial services briefing is a luncheon seminar set for Thursday, November 2, 2017, at 12:00-1:00 PM EDT. Each month, Norton Rose Fulbright’s senior practitioners will provide interested in-house counsel and professionals with an insightful discussion on current regulatory trends within the financial services sector. The November briefing will … Continue Reading
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