Category Archives: Compliance

OCIE Exam Reviews to Include Whistleblower Rule Compliance

Last week, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a risk alert dealing with the whistleblower provisions arising out of the Dodd-Frank Act. While examining registered investment advisers and registered broker-dealers, the Staff is reviewing, among other things, compliance manuals, codes of ethics, employment agreements, and severance agreements to determine whether provisions in those documents pertaining to confidentiality of information and reporting of possible securities law violations may raise concerns under Rule 21F-17 under the Dodd-Frank Act. This review is included in examinations as staff deem appropriate. This exam focus follows several recent SEC enforcement actions charging violations of Rule 21F-17 of the Commission’s whistleblower regulations.

Read more here: National Exam Program Risk Alert: OCIE Examining Whistleblower Rule Compliance

Active or Passive Investor? It Depends. . .

On July 12, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) announced that investment firm ValueAct had entered into a consent decree in which it agreed to pay $11 million to settle charges that two of its affiliated funds acquired large stakes in Halliburton Company (“Halliburton”) and Baker Hughes Incorporated (“Baker Hughes”) in violation of the notification and waiting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the “HSR Act”). The DOJ asserted that ValueAct was required to make an HSR Act filing, but ValueAct had asserted that no such filing was required due to the “investment-only” or so-called “passive investor” exemption. On the heels of such announcement, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) provided clarification that it does not view the inability to utilize the “passive investor” exemption under the HSR Act as equivalent to an investor not being considered “passive” for purposes of Section 13(d) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).

Read more here: Activism and Passivity: HSR Act and Section 13(d) Developments for Investors

Déjà Vu All Over Again – FINRA Revisits Mutual Fund Sales Charge Waivers

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is once again taking a close look at member firm mutual fund sales practices and sales charge waivers (Mutual Fund Waiver Sweep) in the U.S. FINRA’s target exam letter seeks information about mutual fund sales to retirement plans and charitable accounts, as well as the sales charge waivers that mutual funds make available to eligible purchasers. FINRA’s Mutual Fund Waiver Sweep covers the period from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2015 and, as drafted, seeks responses from FINRA member firms by June 10, 2016.

Read more here:Déjà Vu All Over Again – FINRA Takes Another Look at Mutual Fund Sales Charge Waivers

OCIE 2016 Exam Priorities: Retail Investors, Market-wide Risks and Data Analytics

The Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 11, 2016 announced its examination priorities for this year, which “address issues across a variety of financial institutions, including investment advisers, investment companies, broker-dealers, transfer agents, [and] clearing agencies.” The priorities, as in 2015, focus on the following: protecting retail investors and investors saving for retirement; assessing market-wide risks; and using data analytics to identify elevated risk profiles and signal potential illegal activity.

In a separate letter, OCIE identified its priorities for the national securities exchanges.

Read more here: SEC 2016 Examination Priorities Focus on Retail Investors, Market-wide Risks and Data Analytics