securities and exchange commission

On May 25, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued proposed rules under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 for advisers to private funds that consider environmental, social or governance factors (“ESG”) as part of one or more significant investment strategies. The proposed rules would require advisers employing ESG strategies to

Registered advisers should take note that on June 17th, the SEC adjusted the dollar amount thresholds for clients of registered advisers to be deemed to be “qualified clients” under rule 205-3 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which permits registered investment advisers to charge performance-based fees to such clients.

One driver for the first widely adopted cryptocurrency Bitcoin was to create a store of value that existed outside of government control. It is therefore no surprise that attempts to regulate the rapidly developing crypto asset market have required great efforts from regulators and legislators around the world to keep apace.

In this blog, we compare key drivers and results of the regulatory approach being taken in the US and UK. While the U.S. is leading the way on the enforcement of crypto regulations, the UK has taken greater steps in relation to banking approvals. With regard to tax treatment, the position is becoming much clearer in both jurisdictions.

On October 7th, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the rescheduled date of its 2020 national compliance outreach seminar for investment companies and investment advisers.  This program is intended to help Chief Compliance Officers and other senior personnel at investment companies and investment advisory firms enhance their compliance programs.  The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE), Division of Investment Management (IM), and the Asset Management Unit (AMU) of the Division of Enforcement jointly sponsor the compliance outreach program.  The national seminar will be held virtually on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19th, 2020 via a live webcast from the SEC’s Washington, D.C., headquarters from noon until 4:50 p.m. EST.

Asset managers commonly engage regulatory compliance consultants to aid them in addressing regulatory requirements and implementing compliance programs. The work of those compliance professionals can be drawn into SEC enforcement actions in various contexts.  See, e.g., ZPR Investment Mgmt. Inc. v. SEC (compliance consultant resigned when advice not followed and testified in proceeding). One such context is when a fund manager asserts reliance on advice of the compliance consultant as a defense to fraud charges. Earlier this year, a district court opinion addressed that very issue. Although the opinion received little attention, it could have major implications if its analysis is broadly adopted.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently approved amendments to the definition of an accredited investor found in Rule 501(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 that will facilitate the ability of funds and other issuers to raise capital through private placements. Several commenters on the SEC’s proposed rule cautioned

In August 2020, the SEC issued two orders against VALIC Financial Advisors Inc. (VFA) related to VFA’s management of 403(b) and 457(b) plans. These matters arise out of two of the SEC’s enforcement initiatives, the Teachers and Military Service Members’ Initiative and the Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative. VFA is a registered investment adviser and broker-dealer with approximately $21.1 billion in assets under management and services defined contribution retirement plans for Florida public school teachers, among other plans. These two orders follow a sweep of letters sent by the SEC in fall of 2019 to several third-party administrators and affiliates, including broker-dealers and registered investment advisers that work with 403(b) and 457(b) plans. While these actions are the first to come out of the SEC’s Teachers’ Initiative, they are unlikely to be the last.

In a cautionary tale about the career-limiting risks of SEC sanctions, a private fund adviser and its owner were found to have misused over $1 million of fund assets, resulting in a bar from the investment industry as well as a civil penalty.

Monsoon Capital, LLC (Monsoon) is an SEC-registered investment adviser founded and owned by Gautam Prakash. Among Monsoon’s clients is Monsoon Infrastructure & Realty Co-Invest, L.P. (MIRC), a private fund focused on infrastructure investments in India.

On January 13, 2020, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari to an appeal of a June 2019 order from the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that dismissed an action seeking to invalidate certain under the First Amendment, among other arguments. This denial leaves in place a ruling in favor of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) authority to prohibit pay-to-play practices in the investment management industry.

On July 3, 2019, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton issued a “Statement Regarding Offers of Settlement” (the “Statement”), announcing important changes to how the SEC will consider future requests for waivers from disqualifications in settlements.  The Statement may have been prompted by the Bad Actor Disqualification Act of 2019 recently proposed by Representative Maxine Waters.  Regardless of the impetus, the Statement should provide settling parties with greater certainty regarding the waiver process.  Importantly, the new policy effectively allows a settling party to condition its offer of settlement on whether the SEC grants a requested waiver – if the waiver is not granted, the respondent now is able to retract its offer of settlement.