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
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.
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.
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
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
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
Sanctions continue to be a dynamic area of regulation and enforcement. In its first year, the Biden Administration has already undertaken a number of different sanctions initiatives. The three examples below highlight the range of strategies employed and their potential ramifications for private investment funds. Continue Reading
Over the past week, the U.S., UK, and EU imposed sweeping sanctions rolled out by the US, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outlined here. Also last week, the Department of Justice announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture to enforce these sanctions and seize assets belonging to sanctioned individuals and other criminal actors. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland made clear that the U.S. “will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war.”
A threshold question in many cryptocurrency inquiries is whether the digital assets qualify as securities under the federal securities laws. If so, then they are subject to a full suite of federal securities regulations. If not, they still may be subject to AML and other DOJ regulations regarding currencies, as well as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) authority to prosecute manipulation in the spot market for commodities. Without uniform legislation providing guidance on this question, regulators and courts have generally applied the Howey test to determine whether the digital assets at issue are investment contracts and therefore securities. Rulings in litigated matters this year may serve as catalysts to drive legislative action providing further guidance to the industry. Continue Reading
If 2021 was the year in which regulators and investors enthusiastically embraced environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) considerations, by creating new legal and regulatory frameworks, then 2022 will be the year for asset managers to identify and confront the practical challenges of integrating legal requirements and stakeholder expectations into investment policy and performance. Continue Reading