The Capital Commitment

Proskauer on Private Fund Litigation

SEC Reopens Comment Period for Proposed Private Fund Adviser Rules

On May 9th, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it will reopen the public comment period on its proposed rules relating to private fund advisers. The comment period will now remain open until 30 days after the publication of this announcement in the Federal Register.

For more details on this timely announcement, please read the full article here.

SEC Risk Alert Highlights Renewed Focus on Insider Trading and MNPI Policies and Procedures for Fund Managers

Last month, we predicted that a renewed focus by the SEC on insider trading, MNPI and related internal controls would be one of the Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2022. Last week, the SEC’s Division of Examinations (“EXAMS”) issued a timely risk alert relating to Investment Adviser Material Non-Public Information (MNPI) Compliance Issues.

The SEC’s EXAMS risk alert specifically highlighted a handful of common deficiencies noted under Section 204A of the Advisers Act and Rule 204A-1 under the Advisers Act (the “Code of Ethics Rule”).

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SEC to Hire More Staff in Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit and Ratchet Up Scrutiny of Industry

The SEC is expanding its team policing the crypto space by adding enforcement staff to its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit.  We previously noted that regulatory focus on new technologies in the decentralized finance space and further developments on the application of securities laws to digital assets were two of our top ten regulatory developments for asset managers this year.  This post highlights what these developments may mean for fund managers in this space.

Read the full post on our Blockchain and the Law blog.

The Bottom Line of the SEC Proposed Private Fund Rules

On February 9, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) proposed new rules and amendments to existing rules under the U.S. Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended, that would have notable practical implications for private funds advisers, in many cases regardless of the adviser’s registration status. At a high level, the proposed rules include significant requirements and restrictions for private fund advisers pertaining to, among other things: quarterly statements to investors, adviser-led secondaries transactions and prohibitions on certain adviser practices and activities. Recently, Proskauer hosted a two-part series on the Bottom Line exploring the issues raised by these proposals.

To supplement this series, we have presented a collection of questions and answers further exploring some of the issues.

Download the Q&A here.

Conflicts of Interest: How High Will the Bar be Raised?

The SEC last month proposed rules under the Advisers Act indicating a dramatic shift in how the SEC intends to reduce conflicts of interest involving private fund managers and their investors. As we previously noted in the context of increased disclosure obligations, the SEC’s recent approach previews a sea change redefining the relationship between private fund managers and their investors. For decades, the SEC has sought to address potential conflicts through a combination of disclosure and informed consent, in light of the sophisticated nature of private fund limited partners. However, the SEC’s proposal now pivots from that approach, concluding that certain fund manager practices are inherently conflicted and therefore in some cases necessitate that the fund manager undertake specific actions, or in other cases must be flatly prohibited. As the SEC put it in their Proposing Release, “We have observed certain industry practices over the past decade that have persisted despite our enforcement actions and that disclosure alone will not adequately address.” Continue Reading

SEC Proposes Extensive New Rules Applicable to SPACs and de-SPAC Transactions

We previously noted that SEC Chair Gary Gensler suggested the SEC would adopt new rules governing SPACs because, in his view, SPACs are very similar to initial public offerings but lack protections available to traditional IPO investors.  And now, the SEC has taken concrete steps to treat “like cases alike” by announcing proposed rules and amendments governing SPACs explicitly designed to treat SPACs more like IPOs.  Our corporate colleagues have created a helpful summary of the proposed rules and amendments.

Please continue to follow The Capital Commitment for further updates on SPACs and developments in the other Top Ten Regulatory Risks for Private Funds in 2022.

SEC Division of Examinations Announces 2022 Examination Priorities

On March 30, 2022, the Division of Examinations of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced its examination priorities for fiscal year 2022. The annual publication of the Division’s examination priorities is intended to align with the Division’s four pillars of promoting and improving compliance, preventing fraud, monitoring risk, and informing policy, and provide investors and SEC-registered investment advisers transparency into those areas it believes bring heightened risks to investors, registrants, and the markets. For a full briefing on this year’s report, please read the full article by clicking below.

Read the full client alert here.

The Trend of Increasing Disclosure Obligations for Private Funds Continues in 2022

Last month, the SEC proposed new rules under the Advisers Act that, if implemented, would be the most significant enhancement of disclosure obligations for private fund managers since the Dodd-Frank Act.  Citing investor protection and transparency concerns for limited partners as investors, these proposals signal the Commission’s intent to add additional tools to the fund manager enforcement and examination toolbox. Continue Reading

Insider Trading, MNPI and Related Internal Controls: A Renewed Focus by SEC

Over the past few years, the SEC has brought fewer insider trading and Material Non-Public Information (MNPI)-related cases compared to historical numbers. We expect to see a reversal of that trend in 2022.

The SEC has provided some hints of its renewed focus on insider trading. First, even though the overall number of insider trading cases was down last year, the SEC brought two “first of kind” cases involving MNPI. The SEC successfully defeated a motion to dismiss its first “shadow trading” insider trading case – charging an individual with trading in the securities of an issuer based on MNPI he had obtained regarding another issuer. And the SEC brought its first case against an alternative data provider when it charged App Annie and its founder with making fraudulent misrepresentations in connection with its use of confidential information. Continue Reading

Increased Regulatory Focus on Privacy and Cybersecurity for Private Funds in 2022

2021 continued the trend of increased regulatory focus on privacy and cybersecurity for private investment funds in the U.S. and abroad. There are no signs of the trend leveling off any time soon.

One of the topics that captured our attention last year was the rise of ransomware. As previously shared, ransomware has evolved from merely encrypting files/disabling networks in solicitation of ransom, to sophisticated attacks penetrating data systems and debilitating entities.  Thus, while money continues to be an obvious motivator for these attacks, increasingly so is the pursuit of intellectual property and data.  Regulatory agencies have responded to combat the increase in attacks. For example, in October 2020, OFAC issued an Advisory declaring that any payment made to a sanctioned entity on OFAC’s list would be a violation of federal sanctions regulations and the paying entity would be strictly liable. Importantly, this means that the intent of the victim, and the knowledge as to whether the entity is on OFAC’s list, is no defense. While OFAC intends to decrease ransomware attack compliance through the issuance of its list of sanctioned entities, the nature of ransomware makes it difficult for the victim of an attack to be able to identify what entity is actually being paid.  This ambiguity may cause victims of ransomware attacks to unintentionally violate OFAC’s sanctions and be held strictly liable despite the publication of a list of sanctioned entities. Continue Reading

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