United States

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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

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

US Federal and State legislators propose exempting certain digital tokens from securities laws

On January 4, 2019, two Colorado senators introduced the “Colorado Digital Token Act,” a bill seeking to exempt digital tokens and cryptocurrencies from certain Colorado state securities laws. In filing the Colorado Digital Token Act, the senators proposed that digital tokens with a “primarily consumptive purpose” that are not marketed to be used for “speculative … Continue Reading

Impact of partial US government shutdown on federal financial regulatory agencies

As a result of the United States Congress not adopting an appropriations bill or a continuing resolution to fund specific government departments, agencies or functions, certain federal agencies are currently subject to a partial government shutdown. Below is an overview of how the partial federal government shutdown is affecting financial or other major regulatory agencies: … 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

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

Cryptocurrencies held subject to US federal securities laws

For the first time, a US federal court has ruled that in appropriate circumstances cryptocurrencies can be subject to the provisions of US securities laws. In U.S. v. Zaslavskiy, No. 1:17-cr-00647, slip op., 2018 WL 4346339 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 11, 2018), Judge Raymond Dearie of the Eastern District of New York upheld a criminal indictment for … Continue Reading

SEC adopts new Form ATS-N and amendments to Regulation ATS to increase transparency and oversight of alternative trading systems

On July 18, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) voted to adopt amendments to Regulation ATS that impose additional public disclosure requirements on, and enhance the SEC’s oversight of alternative trading systems (“ATSs”) that facilitate transactions in National Market System stocks (“NMS Stock ATSs”). Regulation ATS, adopted in 1998, established a regulatory framework intended … Continue Reading

Business not as usual: US Supreme Court holds that administrative law judges must be appointed—threatening years of prior decisions

On June 21, 2018, the US Supreme Court issued an opinion holding that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) failed to follow the appropriate constitutional processes for appointing its administrative law judges. You can find here a detailed analysis of the decision and its ramifications not only for the SEC but for administrative law judges … Continue Reading

US financial regulators unveil proposed changes to Volcker Rule

On May 30, 2018, the Federal Reserve Board was the first of the five financial services regulators responsible for the Volcker Rule to approve proposed changes agreed by the regulators. Between May 31 and June 5, 2018, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities … Continue Reading

SEC’s Jay Clayton and William Hinman reiterate Howey is here to stay

In his June 6, 2018, interview with CNBC, Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Chairman Jay Clayton further clarified the regulatory landscape around cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and initial coin offerings, nothing that the SEC would not support changing the traditional definition of a security to take into account this new technology: “Where I give you my … Continue Reading

Dodd-Frank reform legislation becomes law; no repeal but key provisions are revised

On May 24, 2018, the President signed Public Law 115-174, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act,” which includes some revisions to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank”), but not its wholesale repeal. The Law addresses such diverse areas as revised bank systemic risk standards, easing of … Continue Reading

New York State starts cryptocurrency exchange inquiry; SEC and CFTC foresee additional cryptocurrency and ICO regulation

On April 17, 2018, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman took the first steps in launching the new Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative through a fact-finding questionnaire sent to thirteen of the major cryptocurrency trading platforms. The Initiative’s focus is protecting consumers and increasing transparency for both investors and enforcement agencies.  “Yet too often, consumers … Continue Reading

April 17 Norton Rose Fulbright New York briefing to focus on aspects of the new US tax law

Norton Rose Fulbright New York office’s next financial services briefing is a luncheon seminar set for Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at 12:00-1:00 PM EDT. Norton Rose Fulbright’s senior practitioners periodically provide interested in-house counsel and professionals with an insightful discussion on current regulatory trends within the financial services sector. The April briefing will be both … Continue Reading

U.S. federal court limits reach of credit risk retention regulations

On February 9, 2018, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the “D.C. Circuit”) issued a major decision regarding credit risk retention requirements. Following the 2007-2008 financial crisis, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act (“Dodd-Frank”) in an effort to avert a future crisis and as part of … 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 1 Norton Rose Fulbright New York briefing to focus on Antitrust and Financial Services

Norton Rose Fulbright New York office’s next financial services briefing is a luncheon seminar set for Thursday, February 1, 2018, at 12:00-1:00 PM EST. 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 February briefing will … Continue Reading

SEC Cyber Unit successfully pursues fraudulent ICOs

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), through its new Cyber Unit, recently obtained an emergency asset freeze against Dominic Lacroix, his partner, Sabrina Paradis-Royer, and his company, PlexCorps, for a fraudulent Initial Coin Offering (“ICO”).  The SEC’s complaint alleges that they sold securities claiming investments in PlexCoin would bring profits of 1,354% in less than … 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

Celebrity Endorsements, Cryptocurrencies, and Initial Coin Offerings

On November 1, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) joined the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in warning celebrities about social media endorsements. SEC Warning The SEC issued both a public statement and an investor alert regarding celebrity endorsements of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). We published a blog post in August regarding the … 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

Legal update on proposed SEC Regulation S-K revisions now available

A recent Norton Rose Fulbright legal update on proposed regulations issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may be of interest to readers of the Financial services: Regulation Tomorrow blog. “SEC proposes Regulation S-K amendments to implement FAST Act mandate,” by Charles E. Hord III, discusses proposed amendments to Regulation S-K (“Standard Instructions For … Continue Reading

EU Market Abuse Regulation: not just an EU compliance issue

The EU Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) came into effect on July 3, 2016. It replaced the EU Market Abuse Directive (MAD) and contains rules on insider dealing, unlawful disclosure of inside information and market manipulation that apply throughout the EU. In addition, the prohibitions and requirements set out in MAR apply to acts or omissions … Continue Reading
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