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New SEC Final Rule clarifies whistleblower program

On September 23, 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a Final Rule, effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, regarding various aspects of its whistleblower program (the Program). Two points are particularly noteworthy. First, the SEC “clarified” that it has the authority and discretion to adjust large awards. Second, there … Continue Reading

FinCEN finalizes AML requirements for certain banks; asks for comments on possible rulemaking on AML compliance programs

On September 15, 2020, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the US anti-money laundering (AML) agency, published a final rule that completes the circle of all banking organizations being treated the same for purposes of AML compliance requirements for banks. The final rule covers banks that do not have a Federal functional regulator, such as … Continue Reading

New York State Legislature passes bill allowing C-PACE financing for new construction

To promote growth of renewable energy projects, the New York State Legislature recently passed bill A.7805/S.6523 (the “C-PACE Bill”), which will allow real estate developers and commercial property owners to obtain Property Assessed Clean Energy (“PACE”) financing for new construction projects. PACE programs are thought to be beneficial for cities, promoting energy efficiency, reducing energy … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition – CFTC issues more LIBOR transition relief

On August 31, 2020, in response to requests by the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC), the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued revised no-action letters to swap dealers and other market participants relating to the transition from use of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) as a reference rates in transactions. These letters supersede … Continue Reading

US banking agencies and FinCEN issue statements regarding AML enforcement

Last month the US federal banking agencies (the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the National Credit Union Administration, collectively, the “US banking regulators”) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) the US anti-money laundering (“AML”) agency, issued statements providing guidance on their … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition – ARRC Releases Helpful Resource Guides for Market Participants

With the potential end of LIBOR quickly approaching in only 16 months, the ARRC has been publishing many helpful resources to aid in the market’s transitions from LIBOR to SOFR, including multiple quick reference resource guides listed below. As part of the ARRC’s Summer Series (a webinar series aimed at educating the public about SOFR … Continue Reading

US SEC adopts amendments to expand scope of “accredited investor” definition

On August 26, 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted amendments to expand the scope of the “accredited investor” definition, allowing a greater pool of investors to access the private capital markets. The amendments add new categories of qualified natural persons who meet certain professional knowledge or certification requirements and expand the list … Continue Reading

Brexit: Where have we got to and what should you do now?

Webinar on 2 September 2020 at 8:45am to 10:00am (BST) We are evolving our successful 40 minute briefings into webinars for financial services professionals. This includes senior management and those in legal, compliance and risk teams who have or are developing financial services expertise. The webinars will be led by senior members of our financial … Continue Reading

SEC and CFTC issue Settlement and Order against Abra simultaneously

In what appears to be a coordinated effort, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) both issued orders relating to Plutus Financial—doing business as Abra—and its Philippines-centered partner, Plutus Technologies Philippine Corporation (Plutus Tech). The July 13, 2020 orders found Abra and Plutus Tech had violated sections of the Securities Act … Continue Reading

A little less privacy: cryptocurrency transactions under the Fourth Amendment

For some people, the appeal of using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin includes the perception that they may offer greater privacy protections for financial transactions, including shielding them from law enforcement scrutiny. A recent federal appellate ruling in a Fourth Amendment case suggests this perception may not align with current legal reality. In his latest column in … Continue Reading

US Banking Regulators Finalize Volcker Rule Covered Funds Revision

On July 31, 2020, the Federal Register published the final Volcker Rule covered funds amendments promulgated in June by the federal financial services regulators (the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission). In her latest … Continue Reading

OCC issues groundbreaking interpretive letter on cryptocurrency custody services

On July 22, 2020, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued an interpretive letter concluding that national banks and federal savings associations have the authority to provide cryptocurrency custody services for customers. The letter, which uses the term “cryptocurrency” to encompass digital currencies, virtual currencies, and “digital assets that are not … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition — US banking regulators caution banks on LIBOR transition risks

As noted in previous LIBOR Transition posts, the availability of LIBOR as a reference rate is not guaranteed beyond the end of 2021. On July 1, 2020, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), which consists of US federal and state banking regulators and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, issued a Joint Statement highlighting the … Continue Reading

FINRA issues guidance on retail communications relating to private placements

On July 1, 2020, FINRA issued guidance to member firms on compliance with FINRA Rule 2210 (“Rule 2210”)) on the marketing of private placements to retail investors. These private placements are typically conducted under Rules 504, 506(b) or 506(c) of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, as “safe harbors” that permit … Continue Reading

SEC Proposes Amendments to Increase Reporting Threshold for Institutional Investment Managers

On July 10, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) proposed amendments to amend Form 13F to update the reporting threshold for institutional investment managers and certain other changes. This marks the first time that the reporting threshold would be updated since its introduction more than 40 years ago. Pursuant to Section 13(f) of the … Continue Reading

The SFA files court brief in bankruptcy court opposing Hertz’s attempt to alter an ABS arrangement

The US Structured Finance Association (the “SFA”), the securitization industry group, has filed an amicus brief in support of a challenge and objection to the Motion for Order Rejecting Certain Unexpired Vehicle Leases Effective Nunc Pro Tunc to June 11, 2020 Pursuant to Sections 105 and 365(A) of the Bankruptcy Code (the “Motion”) filed by … Continue Reading

European Commission’s High-Level Forum on Capital Markets Union issues final report

On June 10, 2020, the European Commission’s High-Level Forum (HLF) issued its final report on the Capital Markets Union (CMU), which proposes detailed recommendations for improving and enhancing the capital markets of the European Union (EU). The report’s 17 recommendations are grouped under four larger themes: (i) creating a vibrant and competitive business environment; (ii) … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition — CFPB addresses elimination of LIBOR in consumer credit transactions

LIBOR is used as a component of an interest or finance charge in consumer transactions as well as the commercial transactions we have discussed in prior LIBOR Transition posts. On June 4, 2020, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), issued a proposed rule that would amend US consumer credit regulations to address the pending … Continue Reading

OCC formalizes “valid-when-made” interest rate doctrine on loan transfers

On June 2, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) published a final rule clarifying the permissible interest rates on transferred loans in relation to the “valid-when-made” doctrine. According to the “valid-when-made” doctrine, a loan is valid at its inception and cannot become invalid or unenforceable based on its original terms due … Continue Reading

Recent US federal court case examines SAFTs under federal securities laws

Cryptocurrency and token offerings present a regulatory paradox. The Securities and Exchange Commission contends that in various circumstances cryptocurrency and token offerings constitute “securities” that must comply with securities laws. A potential approach: “simple agreements for future tokens” or SAFTS. In a recent New York Law Journal column, Robert Schwinger, a partner in the New … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition – ARRC 2020 Best Practices for Completing the Transition from LIBOR

Following on our post discussing the ARRC’s publication of their 2020 Key Objectives, we mentioned that ARRC panned to release a set of recommended best practices. As promised, the ARRC has published guidance for Best Practices for Completing the Transition from LIBOR (“Best Practices Guidance”), along with an accompanying fact sheet, which sets forth recommended … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition – ARRC’s further consultation on spread adjustment methodologies and advice on the SOFR Index

Following on our post discussing the ARRC’s recommendations outlining a spread adjusting procedure, we mentioned that the ARRC planned to release a more detailed final recommendation of the spread adjustment methodology for cash products. On May 6, 2020, the ARRC released a supplemental consultation seeking further views on certain technical questions for the spread adjustment … Continue Reading

US bank regulators issue cloud computing security guidance

On April 30, 2020, the US Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), an interagency group of federal and state banking regulators, issued guidance on “Security in a Cloud Computing Environment.” The FFIEC guidance focuses on security risk management principles and the financial services sector’s use of cloud computing, and supplements its publications on outsourcing of … Continue Reading

SEC Proposes New Framework for Fund Valuation Practices

On April 21, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) proposed new Rule 2a-5 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”) to “modernize” the framework for fund valuation practices applicable to mutual funds, business development companies and other “registered investment companies” under the 1940 Act (each, a “fund”). This framework has not … Continue Reading