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All Systems Go? LIBOR Transition Efforts During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, market volatility, workplace disruptions and a shuttering of everyday life are becoming increasingly commonplace. While the 2021 LIBOR phase-out may not seem top of mind during the current crisis, speculation is mounting about whether the pandemic will delay or otherwise alter the phasing out of the “world’s most … Continue Reading

LIBOR Transition Newsletter – Issue 3

Welcome to the third issue of Greenberg Traurig’s LIBOR Transition Newsletter, where we provide updates, analysis, and occasional commentary on the latest developments relating to the highly anticipated phasing-out of LIBOR at the end of 2021 – less than two years from now. This issue covers the following: ARRC Releases a Consultation on Potential Spread … Continue Reading

Crypto Asset Custody Regulations in Japan

On Jan. 14, 2020, the Financial Services Agency of Japan published draft amendments of enforcement orders, cabinet office ordinances and guidelines concerning the recently amended and enacted crypto asset laws. The amended laws enhance the regulations on transactions related to crypto assets, such as cryptocurrency trades and administration, crypto derivatives, and security token offerings. The … Continue Reading

SEC Issues MD&A Disclosure Guidance and Proposes Amendments to Modernize and Enhance MD&A Financial Disclosures

On Jan. 30, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued (i) guidance regarding the disclosure of key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics in Management’s Discussion and Analysis, or MD&A (the “Guidance”), which is effective immediately and applies to the upcoming annual reports on Form 10-K and 20-F as well as related earnings releases; and (ii) a proposal to … Continue Reading

2020 SEC Exam Priorities for Securities Industry Registrants

The Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released its annual list of 2020 Examination Priorities on Jan. 7, 2020. Many of OCIE’s 2020 examination priorities, including the focus on retail investors, fraud, conflicts (and related disclosures), among others, are perennial risk areas that OCIE routinely prioritizes. While the … Continue Reading

FINRA’s 2020 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter

On Jan. 9, 2020, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released its 2020 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter, in which it identifies its areas of examination focus for 2020. The cover note also highlights key changes in FINRA’s risk monitoring and examination program. These changes include the consolidation of FINRA’s three examination programs into a … Continue Reading

New York State Department of Financial Services Proposes Guidance on Adoption or Listing of Virtual Currencies by Exchanges

In the summer of 2015, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) finalized its regulatory framework for virtual currency firms seeking to conduct certain virtual currency (VC) business activities in the state. Since then, it has issued two dozen licenses and charters involving virtual currency transmission (VC licenses). To promote efficiency and reflect … Continue Reading

2019 Report on FINRA Examination Findings and Observations

In October 2019, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released its “2019 Report on FINRA Examination Findings and Observations.” FINRA publishes a report yearly to highlight its examination “findings” (i.e., findings of violations committed by member firms) detected throughout the year. In addition to findings, the 2019 Report advances further than years past and consists … Continue Reading

U.S. House Passes Bill That Would Require Disclosure of Beneficial Owners of U.S. Corporations and Limited Liability Companies

On Oct. 22, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives, in a 249 to 173 vote, passed H.R. 2513, known as the “Corporate Transparency Act of 2019.”  The Corporate Transparency Act, if enacted into law, would require each person who creates a corporation or limited liability company in the United States to report, on an ongoing basis, … Continue Reading

CFTC, FinCEN and SEC Issue Joint Statement Reminding Persons in Digital Assets Space of Obligations Under Bank Secrecy Act

On Oct. 11, 2019, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), published a Joint Statement on Activities Involving Digital Assets. The purpose of the Joint Statement was “to remind persons engaged in activities involving digital assets of their anti-money laundering and … Continue Reading

SEC Passes Long-Awaited New Rule 6c-11 to Modernize Regulation of ETFs

On Sept. 26, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it had adopted a new Rule 6c-11 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Investment Company Act” or the “Act”). Rule 6c-11 will permit exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that satisfy certain conditions to operate without the expense and delay of obtaining an exemptive order. The new … Continue Reading

Qualifying Assets Under Investment Company Act Section 3(c)(5)(C) Mortgage Exemption

On Aug. 15, 2019, the staff of the Division of Investment Management at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Staff”) issued a significant no-action letter. The letter clarifies the treatment of certain assets held by an entity seeking to rely upon Section 3(c)(5)(C) to be exempt from registration as an investment company under the Investment … Continue Reading

Joint Statement Emphasizes Risk-Focused Approach to Examinations of Banks’ BSA/AML Compliance Programs

On July 22, 2019, the federal bank regulatory agencies and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (collectively, the “Agencies”), issued a Joint Statement on Risk-Focused Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Supervision. The Joint Statement emphasizes their risk-focused approach to examinations of banks’ BSA/AML compliance programs and is the third statement from … Continue Reading

SEC/FINRA Joint Statement on Broker-Dealer Custody of Digital Assets

The SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets and the Office of the General Counsel of FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) published on July 8, 2019, a joint staff statement (Custody Release) on broker-dealer custody of digital assets. The statement has been eagerly awaited by market participants, including broker-dealers, given significant uncertainty in the application of … Continue Reading

SEC Issues Concept Release to Overhaul Current Framework for Exempt Offerings

The SEC is seeking public comment (due by September 24, 2019) on possible ways to improve the framework for exempt offerings under the Securities Act of 1933 and related SEC rules and regulations, via a June 18 concept release. The SEC seeks input from issuers, investors, and other market participants on potential updates to the exempt offering … Continue Reading

Cryptocurrencies and Unclaimed Property: Potential Implications of State Escheat Laws for the Blockchain Technology Industry

The use of blockchain technology and the issuance of cryptocurrencies have grown considerably in recent years, inviting heightened scrutiny and regulation. While federal securities, tax, and other financial services regulatory agencies, such as the SEC, the IRS, state securities commissioners and others, have begun applying their rules and regulations to cryptocurrency businesses, the cryptocurrency industry … Continue Reading

FinCEN Issues Guidance on Application of Regulations to Certain Business Models Involving Convertible Virtual Currencies

On May 9, 2019, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (FinCEN) issued “interpretive guidance” addressing how FinCEN’s money services business (MSB) regulations apply to a variety of business models that use convertible virtual currency (CVC) (2019 FinCEN Guidance). This is the first significant guidance FinCEN has issued regarding the … Continue Reading

When Can Futures Commission Merchants and Broker-Dealers Be Deemed Banks?

On March 21, 2019, in Whitaker v. Wedbush Securities, an Illinois appellate court for the first time addressed the liability of a futures commission merchant (FCM) or broker-dealer (BD) under Section 4A-105 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). By way of background, a customer of an FCM dually registered as a BD ostensibly requested a … Continue Reading

Illinois Supreme Court Rules Annuities Are Not Securities Under Illinois Securities Act

On March 21, 2019, in Van Dyke v. Jesse White, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a long-awaited opinion relating to Illinois Securities Department authority to regulate annuities under the Illinois Securities Law of 1953 (Act). By way of background, in 2011, the Illinois Securities Department audited Richard Lee Van Dyke following complaints from the adult … Continue Reading

SEC Guidance on Exhibit Redactions For Immaterial, Competitively Harmful Information

On April 1, 2019, the SEC provided additional guidance relating to its new rules that permit companies to file redacted material contracts without applying for confidential treatment of the redacted information provided the redacted information (i) is not material and (ii) would be competitively harmful if publicly disclosed. The new rules became effective upon their … Continue Reading

UK Review of the Bribery Act 2010 – Committee Concludes New Guidance Needed

In 2018 the House of Lords announced it would set up an ad hoc Select Committee to conduct a post-legislative review of the Bribery Act 2010. Greenberg Traurig Shareholder Anne-Marie Ottaway was appointed Specialist Advisor to the Committee, which on 14 March 2019 published the report of its findings. The review confirms that the Bribery Act … Continue Reading

CFTC and NFA Commodities Regulatory Update

Departing from its historical practice but following the approach taken by the SEC and FINRA, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Feb. 12, 2019, announced its first release of examination priorities for each of its regulatory divisions. In making the announcement, CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo indicated the release is part of CFTC’s “initiative … Continue Reading

Colorado Digital Token Act Exempts Certain Cryptocurrency Transactions From Colorado Securities Laws

Colorado recently passed legislation that will facilitate the sale and transfer of digital tokens in Colorado. Under the Digital Token Act, Colorado businesses will be permitted to effect transactions involving the sale and transfer between certain persons of digital tokens secured through a decentralized ledger or database, with a focus on the production, distribution, and … Continue Reading

NASDAQ Provides Additional Flexibility Under Its 20% Shareholder Approval Rule

Effective Sept. 26, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved amendments to Nasdaq’s shareholder approval rule regarding issuances of 20% or more of an issuer’s outstanding common stock or voting power in a private offering. The amendments are intended to update Nasdaq’s shareholder approval rules from their 1990 adoption and enhance the ability for capital … Continue Reading
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