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Category Archives: Securities and Commodities

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Securities and Commodities

SEC Advisory Fees Focus Continues as Reflected in Division of Examinations Risk Alert and Chair Gensler Comments

Recent comments from U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gensler at the Institutional Limited Partners Association Summit and an SEC Division of Examinations (EXAMS) Risk Alert published on the same day highlight the ongoing focus of the SEC on advisory fees, both in the institutional and retail spaces. In Chair Gensler’s remarks, he expressed… Continue Reading
Anti-Bribery and Corruption, Sanctions, Trade Embargo, and Export Controls, Securities and Commodities

The Perils of Global Expansion: World’s Largest Ad Agency Sanctioned $19 Million for FCPA Violations, Insufficient Controls

Global expansion without adequate controls is asking for trouble. That’s the lesson of a $19 million settlement between WPP, the world’s largest advertising agency, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to resolve alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). According to an SEC order memorializing the settlement, WPP’s trouble began when… Continue Reading
Compliance, Enforcement and Prosecution Policy and Trends, Financial Institution Regulation, Securities and Commodities

FINRA’s Important Reminder to Firms—Don’t Forget to Supervise Third-Party Vendors

Overview Broker-dealers, like most companies, rely on third-party vendors for a wide variety of functions.  This common practice of outsourcing does not relieve a broker-dealer of its regulatory compliance and supervision obligations over the outsourced functions.  Accordingly, management and supervision of third-party vendors present important issues that merit careful attention from regulatory, compliance, and legal… Continue Reading
Securities and Commodities

A New Avenue for Defendants in Securities Fraud Class Actions: Supreme Court Holds “Generic” Nature of Statements Is “Important Evidence” of Price Impact at Class Certification

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated ruling holding that the generic nature of an alleged misrepresentation may be important evidence of price impact to rebut the Basic presumption of reliance and thus should be considered at class certification. See our post on the Class Action Countermeasures blog.… Continue Reading
Compliance, Securities and Commodities

SEC 2021 National Exam Program Examination Priorities

On March 3, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations (EXAMS) (formerly the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) released its 2021 examination priorities. Notably, while the majority of the examination priorities echo OCIE priorities from prior years, this year’s EXAMS priorities include a greater focus on climate-related risk and environmental, social,… Continue Reading
Fraud, Deception and False Claims, Securities and Commodities

Responses Matter: Securities Fraud Sentence Shows the Value of a Sound Response to a Government Investigation

It’s an old lesson in government investigations, but one worth repeating. Conduct during an investigation can matter as much as the conduct under investigation – sometimes even more. High-profile prosecutions of the past have shown the severe consequences of mistakes in responding to government investigations. Martha Stewart went to prison not for insider trading but… Continue Reading
Compliance, Enforcement and Prosecution Policy and Trends, Securities and Commodities

CFPB’s “Change of Direction” After One Month: New Goals, More Attorneys

In the month since he became Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, David Uejio has implemented a “change of direction” at the agency, making sweeping announcements on a weekly basis. Read our complete commentary on McGuireWoods’ Consumer FinSights blog, which assesses where the CFPB stands after the Biden administration’s first month and the likely… Continue Reading
Compliance, Enforcement and Prosecution Policy and Trends, Securities and Commodities

Consolidated Financial Account Reports and Use of Vendors: FINRA Continues Regulatory Scrutiny – What’s Old is New

Overview Consolidated financial account reports can offer a broad – all-encompassing — view of customers’ investments regardless of where the assets are held and may even include non-securities assets. Customers often demand them and firms and financial advisers provide them. FINRA has had these types of communications to customers on its radar screen for years.… Continue Reading
Securities and Commodities

Congress Affirms and Extends SEC’s Disgorgement Powers

On January 1, 2021, the United States Senate joined the House of Representatives in overriding President Trump’s veto, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) became law. The NDAA was passed chiefly to authorize appropriations for military activities of the Department of Defense. The NDAA also includes a provision codifying the U.S. Securities and Exchange… Continue Reading
Compliance, Securities and Commodities

Pitfalls to Avoid in Investment Adviser Compliance Programs: SEC OCIE Risk Alert

On November 19, 2020, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a risk alert, OCIE Observations: Investment Adviser Compliance Programs, to provide the industry with insights regarding their findings in their examinations relating to Rule 206(4)-7 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) or the Compliance Rule.… Continue Reading
Compliance, Financial Institution Regulation, Securities and Commodities, Uncategorized

OCIE Finds Supervision Failures at Multiple-Branch Office Investment Advisers

On November 9, 2020, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) announced the results of its examination of nearly 40 SEC-registered investment advisers that operate multiple branch offices (the “Risk Alert”). Most of the firms examined conducted their advisory business out of at least 10 branch offices. OCIE observed a wide range of… Continue Reading
Financial Institution Regulation, Securities and Commodities, Uncategorized

Yet Another Mutual Fund Fee Issue or “Death by a Thousand Cuts”: FINRA Sweep of Rights of Reinstatement Waivers

What is the Issue? It may not be “death by a thousand cuts” but it may feel like it, as yet another mutual fund fee issue is being raised by the regulators. FINRA issued a “targeted examination letter” focused on Rights of Reinstatement (“RoR”) due to customers in certain mutual fund sales and purchases. RoRs… Continue Reading
Compliance, Securities and Commodities

2020 NASAA Fintech and Cyber Security Symposium – A Download of Key Comments

On October 27, the North American Securities Administrators Association[1] held its 2020 symposium on Fintech and Cybersecurity. A key theme of the symposium was the impact that the pandemic has had on fintech, cybersecurity, and regulating the financial markets  –  given that regulators and securities industry professionals are largely working from home. The panelists also… Continue Reading
Compliance, Enforcement and Prosecution Policy and Trends, Securities and Commodities

The SEC Speaks 2020: Enforcement Panel Signals Full Speed Ahead Regardless of the Pandemic

Senior officials from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Enforcement convened at a virtual The SEC Speaks conference panel to discuss fiscal year 2020 enforcement results and report on enforcement priorities. To no one’s surprise, the impact of the pandemic on enforcement was a significant part of the discussion. Read our alert for… Continue Reading
Compliance, Enforcement and Prosecution Policy and Trends, Financial Institution Regulation, Securities and Commodities

SEC Enforcement Co-Directors Issue Statement on Insider Trading

Under the leadership of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, the SEC’s Division of Enforcement has made the protection of Main Street investors its overarching priority.  On March 23, 2020, Division of Enforcement Co-Directors Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin issued a statement to financial market participants re-emphasizing the SEC’s commitment to safeguard the… Continue Reading
Compliance, Securities and Commodities

COVID-19: Securities Regulators and Industry Associations Issue Coronavirus Guidance and Relief

Update: Our May 21, 2020, alert provides our most recent discussion of information and guidance issued by the SEC, FINRA, MSRB and SIFMA. As the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread, the widespread impact on the markets, trading, firm operations, compliance obligations – every facet of the market, firms, and individuals working in the industry… Continue Reading
Compliance, Securities and Commodities

FINRA 2.0: FINRA Releases Its 2020 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities

FINRA’s examination program has undergone its most significant reorganization in decades. As stated in a press release, Oct. 1, 2018, FINRA’s goal for the reorganization was to “consolidate its Examination and Risk Monitoring Programs, integrating three separate programs into a single, unified program to drive more effective oversight and greater consistency, eliminate duplication and create… Continue Reading
Compliance, Securities and Commodities

SEC 2020 National Exam Program Examination Priorities

On January 7, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) released its 2020 examination priorities.  OCIE is prioritizing practices, products, and services that it believes present heightened risks to investors or market integrity.  The examination priorities are organized around seven themes, many of which build on OCIE’s priorities from… Continue Reading
Enforcement and Prosecution Policy and Trends, Financial Institution Regulation, Securities and Commodities

SEC Continues Compensation Disclosure Focus With FAQs and Enforcement

On Oct. 18, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Division of Investment Management staff published Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Disclosure of Certain Financial Conflicts Related to Investment Adviser Compensation (FAQs). Many in the industry view the FAQs as overdue SEC guidance in an area that has been a focus of the SEC Division of… Continue Reading
Financial Institution Regulation, Securities and Commodities

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same –Joint Statement by FINRA and the SEC on the Customer Protection Rule and Digital Asset Securities

On Monday, July 8th, FINRA and the SEC took the unusual step of issuing a joint statement on broker-dealer custody of digital asset securities. In doing so, the Staffs of the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets and of FINRA’s Office of General Counsel made clear that the SEC and FINRA will continue to apply… Continue Reading
Securities and Commodities

D.C. Circuit Vacates SEC Sanctions, Says Negligent Omissions Are Not ‘Willful’ Under Advisers Act

On April 30, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a Securities and Exchange Commission order imposing sanctions. The court held that an investment advisory firm and its owners did not violate Section 207 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1930, 15 U.S.C. § 80b-7, by negligently omitting material facts from the… Continue Reading
Securities and Commodities

SEC OCIE Highlights Potential Deficiencies in Firm Privacy Policies

On April 16, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a Risk Alert highlighting Regulation S-P compliance deficiencies and issues it found in recent examinations of broker-dealers and investment advisers. Regulation S-P is the primary SEC rule detailing the safeguards these firms must take to protect customer privacy. The Risk Alert provides… Continue Reading
Financial Institution Regulation, Securities and Commodities

Recent New Jersey Rule Proposal Progresses State Efforts to Impose Fiduciary Duties on Brokers

On April 15, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities (the “Bureau”) issued a rule proposal to establish a uniform fiduciary duty standard applicable to investment advisers, brokers-dealers and their registered representatives and agents.  Specifically, the proposed rule (N.J.A.C. 13:47A-6.4), which could take effect as early as the end of the year, will require all investment… Continue Reading

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