On October 26, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) proposed a new rule under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) imposing due diligence, recordkeeping and reporting obligations on registered investment advisers (“RIAs”) who outsource certain key “covered functions” of the adviser’s business to third parties, including affiliates.  The Proposal represents another step toward more substantive regulation of RIAs by the SEC under Chairman Gensler, and will impose real costs and operational risk on RIAs. Continue Reading New Requirements for Outsourcing by Advisers: Proposed SEC Rule Brings More Obligations and Scrutiny

On October 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) announced related enforcement settlements with Bittrex, Inc., a U.S.-based digital asset exchange and hosted wallet services company (the “Company”), to settle violations of U.S. sanctions and the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and related regulations, respectively.[1]  The OFAC Settlement, the largest of OFAC’s digital asset-related enforcement actions to date, and the FinCEN Consent Order collectively result in the Company paying a civil penalty of approximately $30 million.  Following OFAC’s release of its “Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry” (which we wrote about here)[2] and recent revelations regarding prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice of digital asset-related U.S. sanctions violations (which we wrote about here),[3] this joint OFAC-FinCEN enforcement action illustrates the U.S. government’s continued focus on the digital asset industry’s compliance with U.S. sanctions and the potentially significant penalties parties can face for U.S. sanctions and BSA violations. Continue Reading OFAC and FinCEN Announce Joint Enforcement Action Against U.S.-Based Digital Asset Exchange

On September 30, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) of the Department of the Treasury adopted a final rule (the “Final Rule”) to implement the beneficial ownership reporting requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”), as part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020.  The CTA and Final Rule require a range of U.S. entities, and non-U.S. entities registered to do business in the United States, to report information on their underlying beneficial owners who are individuals to FinCEN.  Notably, certain investments advisers exempt from registration and subsidiaries of private fund clients of investment advisers will be subject to these reporting requirements. Continue Reading FINCEN’s Corporate Beneficial Ownership Reporting Rule: Significance for Investment Advisers

On September 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced settled insider trading charges against the CEO and the former President and Chief Technology Officer of Cheetah Mobile Inc. (the “Company”), a China-based mobile internet company.  The executives allegedly possessed material nonpublic information (“MNPI”) when they set up a trading plan under Rule 10b5-1 of the Securities Exchange Act. Continue Reading SEC Charges Company Executives with Insider Trading for Allegedly Setting Up 10b5-1 Trading Plan While in Possession of MNPI

On September 9, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced charges against several investment advisers for failure to comply with requirements of Section 206(4) of the Advisers Act and the rules promulgated thereunder (commonly known as the “Custody Rule”) and deficiencies related to Form ADV filings.  The advisers included BiscayneAmericas Advisers L.L.C., Garrison Investment Group, LP, Janus Henderson Investors US LLC, Lend Academy Investments, LLC, Polaris Equity Management, Inc., QVR, LLC, Ridgeview Asset Management Partners, LLC, Steward Capital Management, Inc., and Titan Fund Management, LLC.  The advisers all agreed to settle the charges and will pay combined penalties of over $1 million.

Continue Reading SEC Releases Slate of Enforcement Actions Against Advisers Related to Custody Rule Violations and Form ADV Deficiencies

On September 15, 2022, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco (“DAG Monaco”) announced further changes to the enforcement policies and practices of the Department of Justice (“DOJ” or the “Department”) at an event at New York University Law School[1], in particular building on previously announced revisions relating to individual misconduct and corporate recidivism.

Continue Reading U.S. Department of Justice Announces Changes to Corporate Criminal Enforcement Policies

On July 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York charged Ishan Wahi, a former employee of the digital asset trading platform Coinbase (the “Company”), as well as his brother and friend, with engaging in insider trading ahead of certain of the Company’s digital asset listing announcements (i.e., announcements in which the Company publicly discloses the specific digital assets that it plans to make available for trading on its platform), which allegedly generally increase the value of the relevant digital assets. Continue Reading SEC and DOJ Charge Employee of Digital Asset Trading Platform and His Associates With Alleged Insider Trading in Digital Assets

On August 12, 2022, in United States v. Hoskins, No. 20-842 —F.4th—, 2022 WL 330357 (2d. Cir. Aug. 12, 2022) (“Hoskins II”), a three-judge panel from the Second Circuit upheld a lower court decision to overturn the foreign bribery conviction of a former Alstom SA executive, Lawrence Hoskins.  The Court concluded that the trial evidence did not support a finding that Defendant Hoskins was an “agent” of a U.S. subsidiary of the French multinational railway manufacturer Alstom (“Alstom U.S.”).  While highly fact-intensive and likely subject to narrow interpretation in the future, the decision is the Second Circuit’s most recent limitation on the extraterritorial reach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).  This follows a prior Second Circuit decision in this same case limiting the scope of the FCPA’s extraterritorial reach of conspiracy liability for certain foreign individuals acting abroad. Continue Reading Second Circuit Upholds District Court’s Rejection of DOJ Attempt to Expand Extraterritorial Reach of FCPA Through Agency Liability

The last few weeks have seen a significant ramp-up of federal bank regulators’ focus on cryptocurrency companies and their disclosures regarding FDIC deposit insurance, signaling a potential spike in enforcement actions targeted at the crypto sector. Continue Reading FDIC Issues Cease and Desist Letters to Companies for Crypto-Related Representations About Deposit Insurance

On August 10, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) jointly adopted proposed amendments to Form PF that would significantly expand reporting by private equity advisers and hedge fund advisers of both their investments and structures (the “Proposal,” available here).  The Proposal is part of an ongoing effort to bolster the SEC’s regulatory oversight of private fund advisers and investor protection efforts, while also purportedly enhancing the Financial Stability Oversight Counsel’s (“FSOC”) ability to monitor systematic risk. Continue Reading Form PF, Take Two: The SEC and CFTC Propose Further Amendments To Reporting Obligations For Private Equity and Hedge Funds