On January 8, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a proposed order to improve the governance of National Market System (NMS) data plans that produce consolidated equity market data and disseminate trade and quote data. Currently, the equities exchanges and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (the Participants) together collect, consolidate and disseminate information regarding trades and quotes in NMS stocks pursuant to three separate national market system plans.
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On December 18, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to propose amendments (the Proposal) to the definition of “accredited investor” for purposes of private placements under Regulation D and the definition of “qualified institutional buyer” in Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933. The Proposal is intended to update and improve the definitions of those terms in order to more effectively identify both institutional and individual investors with the sophistication to participate in private capital markets transactions. In the SEC’s press release announcing the Proposal, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton noted that, “The current test for individual accredited investor status takes a binary approach to who does and does not qualify based only [on] a person’s income or net worth. Modernization of this approach is long overdue.” As highlighted in the fact sheet included in the press release, the Proposal would, among other things:
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On December 18, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted some amendments to its rules concerning the cross-border application of certain security-based swap requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and issued a statement that it will be allowing some time-limited relief for reporting parties when security-based swap reporting goes into effect.
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On November 25, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Trading and Markets issued guidance intended to facilitate certain substituted compliance applications submitted by non-US security-based swap dealers and/or major security-based swap participants (Guidance). 
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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) previously announced an expansion to its ongoing transparency initiative for the over-the-counter (OTC) equity market. This expansion entails FINRA publishing new data about OTC trading volume occurring outside of alternative trading systems (ATSs).

As of December 2, FINRA began publishing the following types of data: 1) monthly aggregate block-size trading data for OTC trades in National Market System (NMS) stocks executed outside an ATS, on a one-month delayed basis; and 2) aggregate non-ATS volume for each member firm (by eliminating the de minimis exception for member firms executing fewer than, on average, 200 non-ATS transactions per day during an applicable reporting period).
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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is requesting public comment on a proposed rule that generally would prohibit registered persons from serving as a customer’s beneficiary, executor or trustee, or holding a power of attorney or similar position for or on behalf of a customer. The proposed rule also would provide two exceptions from this general prohibition, including (1) instances in which the customer is a member of the registered person’s immediate family and (2) instances in which the member firm approves in advance the relationship. In addition, the proposed rule would require member firms to review and assess these relationships.

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On November 4, the Securities and Exchange Commission extended temporary no-action relief to firms that are regulated in the United States in connection with their efforts to comply with the research provisions of the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II). Under the extension, the SEC staff will not recommend enforcement action