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The past two weeks have seen a number of developments with respect to U.S. sanctions relating to Russia, as the Trump administration has (1) taken additional steps to ameliorate adverse consequences for U.S. persons of the significant sanctions actions targeting Russian oligarchs announced on April 6, 2018; (2) further implemented the Russia-related sanctions provisions of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (“CAATSA”); and (3) issued a new Executive order creating a framework…
As we head into the mid-term election season, we have updated our brief deck summarizing the leadership and staffing changes among federal financial regulators, including announced nominations, confirmations, resignations and expiring terms.  The first slide summarizes the state of play for the agencies’ principals; the later slides provide a deeper look on an agency-by-agency basis, including select senior staff.  We intend to continue to update this resource from time to time. View as a PDF
The regulation and operations of virtual currency exchanges are again in the spotlight, due to the new report issued by the Office of the New York Attorney General (OAG).  The report, which follows the April launch by the OAG of its Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative (VMII), describes in detail the results of the OAG’s “fact-finding inquiry into the policies and practices of platforms used by consumers” (discussed in an earlier Blockchain Bulletin). The…
This blog post lays out the pros and cons that boards and senior management of regional and community banking organizations should consider in light of the Zions decision to shed its bank holding company.[1]  Some have suggested that directors of BHCs now have a fiduciary duty to consider shedding their holding company structure.  This is too strong a recommendation in our view.  There are many pros and cons to eliminating a BHC, and whether doing…
Financial services regulatory reform in 2018 continues to evolve.  As we leave summer behind, here is the Fall Focus edition of our reference tool, which provides context and summarizes current developments across a range of key regulatory areas, agencies and actors.  We will continue to track these issues and will provide our next update after the midterm elections. The Davis Polk Financial Services Regulatory Reform Tool is available here. View as a PDF
After a several month lull that led some to question the SEC’s focus on crypto enforcement, this week saw a spate of enforcement activity involving crypto assets: several SEC enforcement actions, an SEC trading suspension order, the first FINRA cryptocurrency enforcement action, and a preliminary court decision consistent with the view that ICO tokens may be (and perhaps often are) securities.  These actions give life to SEC Chairman Clayton’s statement that “to the extent something…
Guidance is guidance, and rules are rules.  This straightforward statement was reiterated by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles and Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting in separate Congressional hearings earlier this year.[1]  Nevertheless, for at least the past ten years, the failure to be in compliance with some guidance has often been treated as binding on banking organizations.  It has often been used as the basis for…
The FTC is expanding its enforcement efforts for fintech, particularly in the areas of online and small-business lending, payments, and cryptocurrencies.  At a recent event in Washington, D.C., the FTC’s Director of Consumer Protection, Andrew Smith, stated, “Commissioners are really interested in [fintech].  Finance will be a steady part of our diet, and in particular fintech, ’cause that’s where the new entrants to the marketplace are and that’s where the action is.” Because the FTC…
The Director of the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets, Brett Redfearn, recently provided an update on the status of the consolidated audit trail (the “CAT”), which is being developed by the SROs and Thesys Technologies, LLC, the CAT plan processor.  The public statement noted that although the SROs were required to begin reporting to the CAT on November 15, 2017 under the CAT NMS Plan approved by the SEC, reporting has not yet begun.…
In response to feedback from financial institutions, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a Ruling granting exceptive relief (the Ruling) on September 7, 2018 to covered financial institutions from certain obligations under its beneficial ownership regulation, 31 C.F.R. § 1010.230 (the Beneficial Ownership Rule), which became effective on May 11, 2018.  Under the Ruling, covered financial institutions will not be required to identify and verify beneficial ownership information of…