United States

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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

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

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 Italy: updated 1 April 2019 Germany: updated 1 April 2019 Ireland: updated 4 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. … 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

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

Latest issue of Global Asset Management Quarterly now available

Issue 11 of our Global Asset Management Quarterly is now available. You can also register to automatically receive each issue as it is released. This publication highlights key developments that will be of interest to, and affect, our asset management clients, including market trends and developments in tax and buy-side regulation globally. Articles on US … Continue Reading

US regulators propose changes to Volcker Rule to conform to 2018 legislation

On February 8, 2019, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (collectively, the “Agencies”) published for public comment a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (the “NPRM”) to amend the Volcker … Continue Reading

CSBS releases action items to improve regulation of nonbank financial services companies

On February 14, 2019, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) announced several actions that it would be taking to modernize and harmonize state licensing, regulation, and supervision of non-depository financial institutions, including mortgage lenders, money services businesses, and consumer finance companies.… 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

Commissioner Peirce warns the SEC not to cast Howey’s net too wide

On February 8, 2019, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce delivered a speech at the symposium ”Protecting the Public While Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship: First Principles for Optimal Regulation.” Her remarks, entitled “Regulation: A View from Inside the Machine,” provide insight into how SEC regulators currently view certain technological innovations and how they interpret and apply the … Continue Reading

CFTC divisions issue their 2019 examination priorities

For the first time, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (“CFTC”) Division of Market Oversight (“DMO”), Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight, and Division of Clearing and Risk published Examination Priorities for the year. While the CFTC has historically published its Rules Enforcement Review of specific commodity exchanges with notes as to areas for … Continue Reading

Mandatory stay provisions in qualified financial contracts

Companies are being, or have been, approached by US banks and/or their affiliates with which they have derivatives contracts or other qualified financial contracts (QFCs) and asked to amend those agreements to cover a situation where the bank or its affiliates might be put into a receivership situation. The reason why they are getting these … Continue Reading
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