Jim Lundy and Ben McCulloch authored an article entitled “The First SEC Share Class Selection Disclosure Settlements: What We Learned & What’s Next?” for the Investment Adviser Association’s IAA Newsletter Compliance Corner. In the article, Jim and Ben discuss the first wave of settlements under the SEC’s SCSD Initiative as well as lessons learned. They also explore the agency’s ongoing efforts regarding the remaining participants, consequences for firms who opted not to self-report, and the Division of Enforcement’s continued scrutiny of revenue sharing arrangements, disclosures, and conflicts.
Read the full article.*
*Originally published in the IAA Newsletter, April 2019.
The SEC announced yesterday that it has awarded more than $50 million to two whistleblowers—specifically, more than $37 million to one whistleblower and more than $13 million to the other. Press Rel. No. 2019-42 These are the first awards announced in 2019, and the first awards announced in more than six months. The $37 million award now ranks as the SEC’s third largest award to date. The two largest awards ($50 million and $39 million) were announced in 2018.
The more than $37 million was awarded to a whistleblower whom the Commission found, as stated in its Order, to have voluntarily provided information that was “highly significant and critical to the success” of the underlying investigations. Indeed, the Commission’s enforcement staff opened a second investigation after meeting with the whistleblower on two separate occasions. The whistleblower continued to meet with enforcement … Read More »
On March 11, 2019, the SEC announced and released settlements against 79 self-reporting registered investment advisers (RIAs), touting $125 million being returned to investors. The actions stem from the SEC’s Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative (SCSD Initiative). The SCSD Initiative incentivized RIAs to self-report violations resulting from undisclosed conflicts of interest, to promptly compensate investors, and to review and correct fee disclosures. Specifically regarding Rule 12b-1 fees, the SEC’s orders found that the RIAs failed to adequately disclose conflicts of interest related to the sale of higher-cost mutual fund share classes when a lower-cost share class was available.
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton commented: “I am pleased that so many investment advisers chose to participate in this initiative and, more importantly, that their clients will be reimbursed. This initiative will have immediate and lasting benefits for Main Street investors, including through improved disclosure. Also, … Read More »
In a recent announcement, the CFTC indicated it would not appeal its district court loss in CFTC v. DRW, stating, “After careful consideration of the issues, as well as discussion with agency staff and Commissioners, Chairman Giancarlo has decided the agency will not appeal the district court’s decision.”
In 2013, the CFTC filed a complaint against principal trading firm DRW Investments, LLC (“DRW”) and its principal, alleging price manipulation of a various interest rate swaps futures contract in 2011, specifically the IDEX Three-Month Interest Rate Swap Future (the “Three-Month Contract”). The CFTC alleged that DRW’s bidding practices in the Three-Month Contract created artificial daily settlement prices. The Commission based this assertion primarily upon the fact that the bids in question were higher than the corresponding rates in the contemporaneous over the counter (“OTC”) swap market. DRW argued its bids were not … Read More »
In an effort to increase awareness and attention by
regulated entities, the CFTC’s divisions of Market Oversight (DMO), Swap Dealer
& Intermediary Oversight (DSIO), and Clearing & Risk (DCR) announced
their 2019 examination priorities. This marks the first time that the agency
has published division
examination priorities, and Chairman Giancarolo commended CFTC
leadership and staff for their work in bringing additional transparency into
the CFTC’s agenda.
Tasked with oversight of trade execution
facilities, DMO focuses its examination priorities on designated contract markets (DCMs) and swap
execution facilities (SEFs). DMO’s Compliance Branch conducts examinations of DCMs
to monitor their compliance with the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC
regulations. Throughout 2018 the Compliance Branch completed a review of 11
DCM’s self-regulatory operations. Based on this review, and feedback from the
DCM staff, the division identified the following topics for in-depth
examination in 2019:
cryptocurrency surveillance practices; surveillance for disruptive trading (including
DCMs’ rules, surveillance practices, investigations, and disciplinary … Read More »
On January 29, the SEC announced settled charges with four public companies for failing to maintain adequate internal control over financial reporting (ICFR). According to the respective orders, each of these companies repeatedly disclosed material weaknesses involving “certain high-risk areas of their financial statement presentation” over numerous annual reporting periods. Yet, despite these public acknowledgments, the SEC alleged that these companies took “months, or years, to remediate their material weaknesses,” even after being contacted by the SEC. In addition to cease-and-desist orders, the SEC levied monetary penalties against each company ranging from $35,000 to $200,000.
In announcing these settlements, the SEC emphasized that these proceedings were predicated on the registrants’ unreasonable delays in remediating the disclosed internal control deficiencies, rather than the disclosures themselves. Melissa Hodgman, an Associate Director in the SEC’s Enforcement Division, stated in the press release accompanying … Read More »
On January 28, 2019, FINRA released its Regulatory Notice 19-04 announcing its 529 plan self-reporting initiative. This initiative is part of FINRA efforts to have broker-dealers promptly remedy potential supervisory and suitability violations related to recommendations of share classes for 529 plans.
To encourage self-reporting, for a limited time FINRA will offer favorable settlements where violations are found. These terms include no fine and no designation of “statutory disqualification.” However, the deadline to give FINRA notice that you intend to engage in the 529 plan self-reporting initiative is 12:00 a.m. Eastern time on April 1, 2019. Therefore, time is of the essence. This initiative is further detailed in the Drinker Biddle Client Alert linked below.
Read More: FINRA’s 529 Plan Share Class Initiative to Self-Report
Last week, the Department
of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities & Exchange
Commission (“SEC”) announced charges connected to a large-scale,
international conspiracy to hack into the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering,
Analysis and Retrieval (“EDGAR”) system and profit by trading on stolen
material, non-public information. The
conduct underlying these cases was one of the principal reasons that the SEC created
its Division of Enforcement “Cyber Unit” to target cyber-related
securities fraud violations.
In a 16-count indictment unsealed in
the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, two Ukrainian
citizens, Artem Radchenko and Oleksander Ieremenko, were charged with
securities fraud conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, computer fraud conspiracy,
wire fraud, and computer fraud. The SEC’s complaint charged nine defendants – Ieremenko,
six traders in California, Ukraine, and Russian, and two entities – with antifraud
violations of the federal securities laws.
The charging documents allege that
Ieremenko and Radchenko hacked into the EDGAR system and stole thousands … Read More »
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York Announces First-Ever Criminal Bank Secrecy Act Charges Against a U.S.-Based Broker-Dealer
On December 19, 2018, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced criminal charges against Central States Capital Markets, LLC (“CSCM”), a Prairie Village, Kansas-based broker-dealer. CSCM was charged with a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) based on its willful failure to file a suspicious activity report (“SAR”) in connection with the illegal activities of one of its customers. The charge against CSCM represents the first criminal BSA charge ever brought against a United States-based broker-dealer.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also announced that CSCM had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement under which it agreed to accept responsibility for its conduct, forfeit $400,000, and enhance its BSA / Anti-Money Laundering(“AML”) compliance program. If CSCM complies with the terms of the agreement,the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to defer prosecution for a period of two years, after … Read More »
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recently announced significant changes to the Department of Justice’s corporate enforcement policy regarding individual accountability, previously announced in the 2015 Yates Memo. The revised policy no longer requires companies who are the target of DOJ investigations to identify all parties involved in potential misconduct before they can be eligible to receive any cooperation credit. This alert examines the updated policy, which should provide companies with greater flexibility in conducting investigations and negotiating dispositions with DOJ in both criminal and civil cases.
Read the full alert.