United States

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New whistleblower provisions for reporting AML violations

The National Defense Authorization Act was enacted on January 1, 2021, after the Senate joined the House in overriding President Trump’s veto of the bill. In addition to authorizing appropriations for the Department of Defense, the new law also contains several provisions designed to improve policies and procedures aimed at policing money laundering and terrorism … Continue Reading

New beneficial ownership requirements should help with AML KYC obligations

When banks and certain other financial institutions open accounts for entities, among other anti-money laundering (AML) customer identification requirements, they must obtain beneficial ownership information on individuals owning 25% or more of the entity and a person with significant control over the entity such as a president or chief executive officer. We have published several … Continue Reading

SEC continues to allow broker-dealers to rely on investment advisers for customer KYC requirements

In a December 9, 2020, letter, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) extended its no-action relief to broker-dealers in securities (“broker-dealers”) that 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 owner identification regulations. First provided in 2004 regarding customer identification … Continue Reading

UK Risk Retention Requirements Post Brexit

Having only days previously made statements that such a deal was unlikely and warning their citizens to prepare for a no deal Brexit, the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) announced on 24 December 2020 that they had reached an agreement in principle on trade and co-operation. More than 1200 pages long, the … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition – Extension of Certain LIBOR Tenors After 2021

The Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (“ICE”) recently released a consultation that the administrator of LIBOR, ICE Benchmark Administration Limited (“IBA”), requesting feedback on a decision to cease publication of the overnight, one-, three-, six- and twelve-month U.S. Dollar LIBOR (“LIBOR”). The previous expectation was that publication would stop at the end of 2021. It now appears … Continue Reading

New York City PACE administrator provides program update

As we discussed in our October blogpost “Advances in New York City PACE programs,” the New York City Department of Finance (“NYCDOF”) has published for comment proposed rules that would establish criteria and program guidelines for the New York City Commercial Property Assessment Clean Energy (“C-PACE”) Program. The proposed rules establish eligibility criteria for obtaining … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition — What US municipal securities issuers should know

The UK Financial Conduct Authority has warned that the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is not likely to be published after 2021. What will happen to LIBOR-based municipal securities, loans, and derivatives that extend beyond 2021, if and when LIBOR goes away? The contracts could be remediated by pending New York and possible federal LIBOR … Continue Reading

US SEC amends rules to simplify and expand the exempt offering framework

On November 2, 2020, in an effort to harmonize and modernize the exempt offering framework under the Securities Act of 1933 (the Securities Act), the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a final rule entitled “Facilitating Capital Formation and Expanding Investment Opportunities by Improving Access to Capital in Private Markets.” In a new legal … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition – US Banking Agencies issue statement on replacement rates

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (collectively, the “Banking Agencies”) issued a statement (“Statement”) on November 6, 2020, regarding the upcoming discontinuation of LIBOR as a reference rate. Referencing a recent statement on the LIBOR transition issued by … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition – New York State introduces LIBOR replacement legislation

When the use of LIBOR as a reference rate in financial contracts is phased out at the end of 2021, those contracts currently utilizing LIBOR may face costly litigation, renegotiation and market disruption. On October 28, 2020, New York State Senate Bill S9070 (“S9070”) was introduced and is intended to possibly pre-empt much of that … Continue Reading

The LIBOR Transition – ISDA 2020 IBOR Fallbacks Protocol and Supplement

Introduction On October 23, 2020, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (“ISDA”) released the ISDA IBOR Fallbacks Protocol (“Protocol”) and a Supplement to the 2006 ISDA Definitions (“Supplement”). While the Supplement amends definitions to the 2006 ISDA Definitions, it only amends definitions for new contracts. The Protocol gives participants an opportunity to amend existing contracts. … Continue Reading

Advances in New York City PACE programs

The New York City Department of Finance (“NYCDOF”) has published for comment proposed rules which would establish criteria and program guidelines for the New York City Commercial Property Assessment Clean Energy (“C-PACE”) Program. The proposed rules establish eligibility criteria for obtaining C-PACE loans for the purpose of retrofitting or renovating properties for energy efficiency or … Continue Reading

Is it still legal? Lingering uncertainty in securitization of loans and the interest rate that can be charged to borrowers

In 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York stunned markets when it issued an opinion in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC that ignored the “valid-when-made” principle of usury law that had been in place for decades. That decision impugned much of the secondary consumer debt market, including credit card … Continue Reading

Important SAFT court opinion; lawyers accepting virtual currency as payment

In a much-anticipated decision with important implications for the cryptocurrency industry, a second New York federal judge has now ruled that an offeror’s use of a two-stage “Simple Agreement for Future Tokens” or “SAFT” structure for issuing cryptocurrency tokens will not suffice to exempt the offering from the reach of US securities law. In this … Continue Reading

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

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

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
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