In December 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (the HFCAA). The HFCAA requires auditors of foreign companies that are publicly traded in the US to allow the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to inspect the auditors’ audit work papers for audits of non-US operations. If a company’s auditors fail to comply with the inspection requirement for three consecutive years, trading in such foreign company’s securities would be prohibited in US markets. The HFCAA also amends the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the Sarbanes-Oxley Act), mandates that the Securities and Exchange Commission identify foreign issuers that use an audit firm that is located in a foreign jurisdiction in which the PCAOB is restricted from inspecting or investigating the audit firm, and imposes additional SEC disclosure requirements on such foreign issuers.
Continue Reading Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act Signed Into Law by President Trump

On December 22, 2020, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) filed a rule change with the Securities and Exchange Commission that further postpones the implementation of mandatory margin for Covered Agency Transactions under FINRA Rule 4210 until October 26.
Continue Reading FINRA Postpones Implementation of Mandatory Margin for Covered Agency Transactions

On December 23, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a no-action letter regarding family offices and Regulation Best Interest.

Specifically, the SEC staff indicated that the SEC would not treat Institutional Family Offices as “retail customers” for broker dealers for purposes of Regulation Best Interest and broker dealers’ Form CRS. An Institutional Family Office

On December 22, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the New York Stock Exchange’s proposed new direct listing rules to allow companies engaging in a direct listing to raise capital directly through a primary sale of shares, in addition to, or instead of, only facilitating sales of shares by existing shareholders, as previously permitted.
Continue Reading SEC Again Approves NYSE’s Direct Listing Rules

On December 18, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced the creation of a joint venture among multiple SEC divisions and offices to coordinate roles related to the regulation of security-based swaps (SBS) and provide oversight of entities that will be required to register with the SEC (SBS entities).
Continue Reading SEC Announces New Internal Security-Based Swaps Joint Venture

On December 23, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a statement and request for comment relating to custody of digital asset securities by broker-dealers, including certain conditional, time-limited relief for such arrangements. The statement will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
Continue Reading SEC Issues Statement on Custody of Digital Asset Securities by Special Purpose Broker-Dealers

On December 16, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it adopted a rule to limit the potential for overlapping or duplicative regulation within its security-based swap regulatory regime. Specifically, the rule exempts certain activities of security-based swap execution facilities (SEFs) and security-based swap dealers from triggering the requirement also to register as a clearing agency. The adopted rule is in line with similar exemptions for broker-dealers and national securities exchanges.
Continue Reading SEC Adopts Clearing Agency Rule to Limit Potential for Overlapping or Duplicative Regulation

On December 16, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to adopt final rules that will require resource extraction issuers that are required to file reports under Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) to disclose payments made to the US federal government or foreign governments for the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals.
Continue Reading SEC Adopts Final Rules for the Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers