The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week published its 2022 Examination Priorities report. This year, the SEC’s Division of Examinations plans to prioritize scrutiny of Private Funds; Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing; Standards of Conduct: Regulation Best Interest, Fiduciary Duty, and Form CRS; Information Security and Operational Resiliency; and Emerging Technologies and Crypto-Assets.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed new rules to address the way special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) are regulated. The new rules would enhance the disclosure requirements of a de-SPAC transaction, increase the technical requirements for SPACs, and expand underwriter liability.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued alerts this month calling for increased vigilance in the face of potential evasion of Russian sanctions. FinCEN also offered guidance to financial institutions in detecting suspicious transactions involving high-value assets.
On June 2, 2022, the New York Senate passed Senate Bill S6486D (the Bill), which would amend the state’s environmental conservation law and set forth a two-year moratorium on certain cryptocurrency mining operations in the state of New York. The Bill passed the New York Assembly earlier in 2022 and now awaits Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature. If signed, the Bill would prohibit the issuance of permits for certain electric-generating facilities that provide energy for mining operations that use proof-of-work (PoW) authentication methods to validate blockchain transactions. The legislation also would require a comprehensive generic environmental impact statement review by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in consultation with the state’s Department of Public Service.
On June 7, 2022, California State Assembly Banking and Finance Committee Chair Timothy Grayson introduced legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 2269, sponsored by the Consumer Federation of California, that will establish the Digital Financial Assets Law. The legislation aims to give the cryptocurrency industry regulatory clarity and consumer protections by licensing and regulating the activities of cryptocurrency exchanges.
On May 26, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the Bureau or CFPB) issued its third Circular, emphasizing that creditors must adhere to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and Regulation B, even when they employ complex algorithms, sometimes referred to as uninterpretable or “black-box” models, to render credit decisions. The Circular explains that companies must provide an applicant with the precise reasons for the denial of a credit application or adverse action, even if the creditor company uses complex credit algorithm models that do not allow even the creditor itself to “accurately identify the specific reasons for denying credit or taking other adverse actions.”
One of the most common errors in 401(k) plan administration continues to be a mismatch between a plan’s definition of compensation and the actual compensation taken into account for plan purposes despite this problem being common enough for the IRS to include it in its “401(k) Plan Fix-It Guide”.
On May 19, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) issued an interpretive rule (Section 1042 Interpretive Rule 5 19 2022) confirming that the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) provides states with wide-ranging powers—independent of the Bureau—to enforce federal consumer protection laws.
Opportunity Financial, LLC (OppFi) has filed a Demurrer to the cross-complaint filed by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) in which it asks the California trial court to reject the DFPI’s attempt to apply California usury law to loans made through OppFi’s partnership with FinWise Bank (Bank) by alleging that OppFi is the “true lender” on the loans.
The Connecticut Department of Banking (“Department”) has issued a temporary cease and desist order (“Order”) that directs SoLo Funds, Inc., (“SoLo”) a fintech company that uses peer-to-peer technology to assist consumers in obtaining small dollar loans from third-party lenders, to immediately stop engaging in such activity because it is not licensed as a small loan company in Connecticut. The Order also directs SoLo to stop enforcing loans made to Connecticut residents and make restitution of any amounts it obtained in connection with such loans together with interest.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel’s office issued a memorandum reiterating the rights of immigrant workers under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Continuing its aggressive approach to expanding legal protections for workers and labor unions, the General Counsel’s office of the NLRB issued Memorandum OM 22-09, reiterating NLRB policy on workers’ rights to access the NLRB collective bargaining and remedial procedures regardless of immigration status, without fear of reprisals from their employers or the federal government.
Effective January 1, 2023, Washington employers with at least 15 employees must affirmatively disclose the wage scale or salary range and a general description of all benefits and other compensation being offered when posting job openings, regardless of whether such information is requested by the applicant.
While the United States awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, which may overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate the federal standard for abortion access, some states are considering setting their own standards that would ban or protect the medical procedure.
As volatility in the cryptocurrency market has increased, regulators in the United States and around the world have indicated a willingness to impose tougher compliance requirements related to crypto assets. As a result, there is an increasing likelihood that companies that hold or deal in crypto assets may be subject to additional regulations in the coming years.
Manufacturers in the U.S. should take note of a new request for comment from the United States Trade Representative as a lack of support may lead to removal of the tariffs and surge in unfairly priced imports.
On May 18, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its decision in Jarkesy v. Securities and Exchange Comm’n, in which it examined the constitutionality of an agency civil money penalty enforcement proceeding.
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