On December 17, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced settled charges against a broker-dealer firm for recordkeeping violations arising from its employees’ use of personal devices for business communications. The firm agreed to pay a $125 million penalty and to retain a compliance consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of its policies and procedures relating to the retention of electronic communications found on personal devices. In announcing this enforcement action, the SEC encouraged registrants to self-report similar failures to the SEC. (more…)
In a much anticipated (and, to many, long overdue) release published in mid-November, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed to update its decades-old recordkeeping requirements for broker-dealers to, among other things, allow for electronic records to be retained in a manner other than “exclusively in a non-rewriteable, non-erasable format” (aka write once, read many, or WORM). The proposal would allow electronic records to be retained, as an alternative to WORM, using an audit-trail methodology.
On November 9, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Division of Examinations (EXAMS) released a risk alert (Risk Alert) concerning deficiencies it observed in its examinations of advisers providing electronic advisory services, including advisers known as “robo-advisers.”1 Those deficiencies were in the areas of the robo-advisers’ compliance programs, portfolio management practices (including advisers’ fiduciary obligations), and marketing/performance advertising. (more…)
On September 14, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settled an enforcement action against App Annie Inc., an alternative data provider for the mobile app industry, and its former CEO Bertrand Schmitt. The SEC charged App Annie and Schmitt with securities fraud, under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, for engaging in deceptive practices and materially misrepresenting how App Annie derived its alternative data, thereby inducing trading firms to become subscribers to use App Annie’s data in their decisions to buy and sell securities. (more…)
Through its announcement of settled charges against Pearson plc (Pearson) on August 16, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission signaled its continued, high level scrutiny of companies’ public statements related to data security incidents.1 Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Pearson agreed to a cease and desist order (Order) and to pay a $1 million penalty.2 The SEC’s Pearson Order follows its June 2021 announcement that it had settled charges against First American Title Insurance Company (First American) for cybersecurity disclosure control failures.3 Together, the Pearson and First American actions underscore the SEC’s increasingly vigorous enforcement efforts on disclosure control violations related to cybersecurity issues, in particular vulnerabilities that expose sensitive customer information and data breaches. (more…)
Given the substantial growth in digital asset investments this year, intermediaries offering trading and lending services are now the target of regulatory and enforcement focus that we expect will continue in the coming months and years. Recent examples of this increased scrutiny of digital asset service providers and intermediaries include
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler’s keynote for the American Bar Association Derivatives and Futures Committee, which touched on the regulation of cryptocurrencies, including statements that decentralized finance (DeFi) are implicated by securities laws
- the letter from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to Chair Gensler requesting further information about the SEC’s authority to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges
- recent actions by state securities regulators against the financial services platform BlockFi related to a digital asset lending program alleging that these products are unregistered securities offerings
- the SEC settlement with Coinschedule, which operated a token-offering website and failed to disclose the compensation it received from token issuers in violation of antitouting provisions
On June 15, 2021, the SEC announced settled charges against First American Title Insurance Company (First American) for disclosure controls and procedures violations related to a cybersecurity vulnerability that exposed sensitive customer information.1 Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, First American agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay a $487,616 penalty (Order). This resolution highlights the SEC’s continued focus on cybersecurity. The SEC is considering enhancing its disclosure rules concerning cybersecurity risk governance and has indicated a target release date of October 2021.2
On March 29, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Division of Examinations (EXAMS) issued a risk alert to remind broker-dealers of their obligations related to anti-money-laundering (AML) rules and regulations as well as to provide the staff’s observations of compliance items related to those obligations. The risk alert also is designed to assist broker-dealers with reviewing and enhancing their AML programs. The staff noted that mutual funds may benefit from the examination observations.
This is the latest EXAMS announcement of its expansion deeper into AML issues. This expansion further demonstrates that broker-dealers need to be prepared to address questions and concerns from both the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in a coordinated and efficient matter even if these overlap.
This Sidley Practice Note highlights certain key disclosure considerations for preparing your annual report on Form 10-K for fiscal year 2020, including recent amendments to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure rules and other developments that will affect 2020 Form 10-K filings as well as certain significant disclosure trends and current areas of SEC staff focus for disclosures. Appendix A to this Practice Note sets forth a summary checklist of significant Regulation S-K amendments affecting 2020 Form 10-K filings, which are discussed in further detail. As always, we invite you to contact us with any questions on these topics or any other SEC reporting and compliance matters.