Next year the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) will adopt a new four-year strategic plan for fiscal years 2022-2026, as required by the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010. This Act requires federal agencies to update their strategic plans every four years.
On November 23, 2021, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (collectively, “Supervisory Agencies”) issued the Joint Statement on Crypto-Asset Policy Sprint Initiative and Next Steps (“Joint Statement”).
On November 18, 2021, the Chief Counsel of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) published Interpretative Letter #1179 to clarify the Digital Asset Letters (defined below) related to the permissibility of national banks and Federal savings associations (collectively, “Banks”) to engage in cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, and stablecoin activities.
On November 4, 2021, SEC Chair Gary Gensler delivered remarks at a Securities Enforcement Forum and explained why enforcement is a “fundamental pillar in achieving the SEC’s mission” of investor protection, capital formation, and efficient and orderly markets. Chair Gensler’s remarks came one-week after Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco delivered the keynote address at the ABA’s 36th Annual Institute on White Collar Crime on October 28th, in which she outlined the DOJ’s priorities to prevent corporate crime.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco (“DAG”) delivered the keynote address at the ABA’s 36th Annual Institute on White Collar Crime on October 28th. The speech emphasized priorities that existed prior to the Trump Administration. The DAG explained that corporate crime has taken on a national security dimension, with data analytics playing a larger role.
On July 26, 2021, Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to urge the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) to “act with urgency and use its statutory authority to address cryptocurrencies’ risk and ensure the safety and stability of our financial system.” On November 1, 2021, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, joined by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”), addressed part of Senator Warren’s concerns by issuing a Report on Stablecoins (“Report”). The Report left many issues unresolved unfortunately.
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently approved a proposal by the Nasdaq to diversify corporate boards. The Nasdaq’s proposed rule is aspirational, requiring disclosure of compliance or an explanation of non-compliance. However, the proposal has drawn heated debate in both political and business circles, with some arguing for needed integration of corporate boards, and others arguing that the policy is racially discriminatory.
The White House released a Memorandum on Establishing the Fight Against Corruption (“Memo”) on June 3, 2021. The Memo sets Administration policy regarding the corrosive impact corruption has on “United States national security,” which, if not addressed, threatens “economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself.” The Memo directs an interagency review by agencies including CIA, DHS, DOJ, DNI, and certain military assets, to develop strategies that, when implemented, will bolster the U.S. Government’s ability to attack corruption, wherever located.
Today a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Gorsuch, upheld a 9th Circuit decision that the NCAA’s rules for compensating Division I football and basketball players are subject to a full Rule of Reason analysis, and that NCAA conferences and school may permit certain education-related benefits.
The underlying decision involved a district court’s injunction of restrictions by NCAA conferences and schools that imposed caps on education-related benefits to athletes, such as rules that limit scholarships for graduate or vocational school, payments for academic tutoring, or paid post-eligibility internships. The 9th Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision and the NCAA appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s opinion upheld the lower courts’ findings that providing certain education-related benefits to students would not blur the line between college and professional sports, and therefore would not lead to a decrease in viewership for college games on television.
New York, January 25, 2021 – The SEC sent a message to public companies recently when it settled an investigation involving well-known eatery, Cheesecake Factory (see SEC Order). The company’s failure to make accurate disclosures about its financial condition, as prompted by Covid-19 realities, was egregious, yet the SEC’s order allowed the company to neither admit nor deny liability, to pay a civil money penalty of $125,000, a slap on the wrist for a public company, and agree to cease and desist from committing or causing any violations and any future violation of the reporting standards of Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 12b-20 and 13a-11 thereunder. What is the message? The Staff is watching – closely.