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Securities Compliance Sentinel blog

The highly regulated securities and financial industry has a host of complex problems—and financial institutions often find themselves on the receiving end of audits, investigations and other compliance issues.

In the Securities Compliance Sentinel blog, Ernest shares his knowledge and experience to address cutting edge issues in the firm’s Securities Compliance Sentinel Blog. Join this team of bloggers in their exploration of this increasingly complex area.

Scroll down to see Ernest's most recent blog posts.

Recent Blog Posts

  • SEC Moves in a Very Different Direction on Finders In a stark 3-2 vote along political lines, the SEC announced today that it was proposing new rules relating to finders.  Essentially, if the proposed rules are, ultimately, approved, the SEC will sharply change the position it has maintained for over 8 decades, allowing unregistered finders to sell securities to the investing public while receiving transaction based compensation.  See https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2020-248.   If approved, the proposed rules would permit 2 categories of finders.  Both types of finders would be allowed to solicit... More
  • The Dark Side Strikes Again: No, Not the SEC, Hackers and Credential Stuffing Recently, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) released an alert to broker-dealers and registered investment advisers regarding the risks associated with credential stuffing.  See https://www.sec.gov/files/Risk%20Alert%20-%20Credential%20Compromise.pdf. Credential stuffing is an automated attack on web-based user accounts and direct network login account credentials. Cyber attackers obtain lists of usernames, email addresses, and corresponding passwords from the “dark web,” and then use automated scripts to try to compromise user names and passwords on other websites. OCIE believes that credential stuffing is emerging... More
  • Uniform Money Transmitting Rules May Make It Easier for the Cryptocurrency Business Money service businesses received a reprieve last week that will make cryptocurrency firms very happy since they will be able to more easily expand across the United States. The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) – 48 state regulators – agreed on a regulatory system for money services’ businesses, including a single set of supervisory rules and exam program conducted by state regulators. The new regime applies to nearly 80 large payment and cryptocurrency firms, doing business of over $1 trillion... More
  • SEC Changes Accredited Investor and Qualified Institutional Buyer Definitions The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) adopted amendments to the definitions of both accredited investor under Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) Regulation D Rule 501 and qualified institutional buyer (“QIB”) under Securities Act Rule 144A. Under the new accredited investor definition, the following parties would now be considered accredited investors: (1) designated professionals, such as those persons currently holding, in good standing, the FINRA Series 7, Series 65 and Series 82 licenses, others may follow; (2) private fund... More
  • TRANSACTION-BASED COMPENSATION REQUIRES REGISTRATION . . . PERIOD FINRA’s National Adjudicatory Counsel (“NAC”), recently, affirmed a disciplinary panel decision significantly sanctioning a broker-dealer for paying unregistered persons and entities.  See https://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/NAC_2014042606902_Silver-Leaf_062920.pdf. FINRA alleged, among other things, that a broker-dealer paid transaction-based compensation to “unregistered finders,” and non-registered entities owned by its registered persons.   Ultimately, the NAC agreed that, over a 3 year period, the broker-dealer paid and/or shared certain transaction-based compensation with unregistered finders and entities affiliated with registered persons, rather than paying the registered persons directly. The... More
  • SEC Prepping for a New Round of Attacks on Fund Advisers The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) conducted a series of examinations into private fund advisers. See the SEC risk alert here. To say the least, OCIE was not pleased with the results, indicating a significant percentage of these advisers had compliance issues.  In particular, OCIE found problems with: (1) conflicts of interest; (2) fees and expenses; and (3) material non-public information policies and procedures. OCIE found that these private advisers had numerous conflicts of interest issues, noting that... More
  • SEC Readying to Hammer BDs and RIAs Over COVID19 Compliance Risks The SEC’s Office of Compliance and Inspections (“OCIE”), recently, issued an alert—more like a shot across the bow—to BDs and RIAs regarding its concerns over activities in the industry concerning the challenges encountered by COVID-19.  See https://www.sec.gov/files/Risk%20Alert%20-%20COVID-19%20Compliance.pdf.  As part of its efforts, OCIE made certain recommendations concerning: (1) investor asset protection; (2) personnel supervision; (3) fees, expenses, and financial transactions policies; (4) investment fraud; (5) business continuity plans; and (6) sensitive information protection. OCIE complained that firms were not doing enough... More
  • Sorry, No Picture of George or Abe, But Still Money Recently, the United States District Court of the District of Columbia refused to dismiss money laundering charges against a defendant who was allegedly engaged in a darknet cryptocurrency scheme.   See U.S. v. Harmon, Case Number 1:19-cr-00395-BAH (D.D.C. July 24, 2020) . Essentially, the defendant tried to claim that, when he transferred more than 350,000 bitcoins, he was not transferring “money,” and, therefore, not subject to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1960(a); and engaging, without a license,... More
  • Now Available Fox Rothschild’s National Survey on Restrictive Covenants – 2020 Edition Fox Rothschild’s Securities Industry Group and Labor & Employment Department have updated the firm’s National Survey on Restrictive Covenants, a quick reference guide for in-house counsel and human resource professionals in a variety of industries. Restrictive covenant law is in a constant state of flux and varies considerably from state to state. Our national survey helps companies keep up with the latest changes to state laws, including increased requirements for creating enforceable restrictive covenants.... More
  • Bitcoin Exchanges and the Cryptocurrency World Was Just Rocked In an unexpected to say the least case of first impression, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, essentially, blew away the privacy doors of the cryptocurrency world when it forced a Bitcoin exchange to disclose user data to the federal government without being served a warrant. See USA v. Gratkowski, Case number 19-50492, (5th Cir. 2020).  This Bitcoin exchange use blockchain technology that records every transaction in a publicly accessible ledger, but the persons owning the... More