United States

Topic: Enforcement

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U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether SEC may obtain disgorgement of “ill-gotten gains”

On November 1, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take a case challenging the authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to seek and obtain disgorgement of profits from persons who violate the federal securities laws. The case is Charles C. Liu, et al., Petitioners v. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has … Continue Reading

Three US Agencies issue joint statement on activities involving digital assets

On October 11, 2019, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the US anti-money laundering (AML) agency, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) (collectively, the “Agencies”) issued a joint statement on digital assets activities (“Statement”), reminding the businesses under their jurisdictions that digital assets activities may be … Continue Reading

First Data Access Agreement under the CLOUD Act signed by UK and US

On 3 October 2019, the UK and US governments signed the first bilateral Data Access Agreement (the Agreement) under the US Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act 2018 (CLOUD Act) and the UK Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019. The Agreement seeks to facilitate faster and more direct access by each country’s agencies in criminal … Continue Reading

SEC orders Block.one to pay $24 million penalty for unregistered ICO

On September 30, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced a settlement with Block.one, a blockchain technology company with operations in Virginia and Hong Kong, for conducting an unregistered initial coin offering (“ICO”) that raised several billion dollars’ worth of Ether from June 2017 through June 2018. The SEC alleged that Block.one, a Cayman … Continue Reading

Finalization of proposed changes to Volcker Rule begins

On August 20, 2019, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) became the first two of the five agencies required to approve final amendments to the Volcker Rule that were proposed last year. Our blog post on the proposal may be accessed here. Highlights of the final rule include … Continue Reading

United States imposes additional sanctions involving Russia and Venezuela

The US Government recently imposed additional economic sanctions with respect to Russia and Venezuela. Norton Rose Fulbright has prepared legal updates discussing these developments: US imposes second round of CBW Act sanctions on Russia, authored by Partners Stefan Reisinger and Steven McNabb, Senior Counsel Kimberly Caine, and Associate Wenda Tang in our Washington DC Office. … Continue Reading

US bank regulators extend Volcker Rule no-action position for certain non-US funds

On July 17, 2019, the time period for a no-action position with respect to enforcement action under the Volcker Rule for certain non-US funds was extended for two more years. On July 21, 2017, the Federal Reserve Board, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the “US Banking Agencies”), issued … Continue Reading

FinCEN issues advisory and guidance on virtual currency

On May 9, 2019, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) agency, announced issuance of both Guidance and an Advisory on how transactions involving convertible virtual currencies (CVCs) would be subject to FinCEN’s money services business (MSB) regulations. FinCEN characterized the Guidance as a consolidation of its regulations, previous guidance and … Continue Reading

NRF overview of US sanctions laws and regulations now available

The US sanctions landscape keeps changing rapidly. More than ever, both US and non-companies need to understand the various types of US sanctions and their potential influence on the global matrix of business risks, and stay abreast of key developments so that they can nimbly anticipate and prepare their business to respond to emergent US … Continue Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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