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Finance & Banking

Coinbase Proposes a New Regulator to Oversee Digital Assets After Feud with SEC

Patrick Gilsenan Senior Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Weekend JD 2023 In October 2021, the cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase released a proposal for a regulatory framework that would designate a single regulator for the digital asset markets.  This proposal comes less than a month after Coinbase’s CEO had a public meltdown on Twitter …
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Should Small Business Owner’s Allow Payments of Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrency is a relatively new form of currency that has risen in popularity worldwide. Since the pandemic struck, many small businesses have begun to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for their goods and services. There is much debate regarding taxation and auditing of cryptocurrency transactions in small businesses, along with weighing the cost and benefit of providing this alternative payment method.

Treasury’s Proposal Aimed at Limiting Tax Evasion by The Wealthy, May End Up Harming Everyone Else

In May of 2021, the United States Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) introduced its revenue proposals for the 2022 fiscal year. One of the proposals that garnered significant attention was the Comprehensive Financial Account Reporting to Improve Tax Compliance; under this proposal, financial institutions will be required to report to the Treasury the total amount of inflow and outflow on bank, loan, and investment accounts for accounts that hold at least $600 a year. Since its introduction and after serious political push-back, this amount has since been increased to accounts that hold at least $10,000 a year.

If the reporting requirement is implemented, the Biden Administration proposes to raise the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) funding by $80 billion to finance the cost of additional auditors and equipment. However, the Biden Administration, with the proposal’s implementation, expects a payoff of $460 billion over ten years in additional revenue. Although this proposal is intended at limiting wealth tax evasion, this proposal misses the mark. Specifically, it does not adequately address businesses that are able to cheat tax codes by stretching the current law, and instead scrutinizes small businesses and individuals while it exponentially increases the personal data held by the Treasury.

The Rule 10b5-1 Plan: How Executives Unload Stock Without Fear of Insider Trading Accusations

Many of the most valuable companies in the world today began as small start-ups owned by a few visionary entrepreneurs. As those companies become increasingly valuable, so does the stock held by those founders. It is no secret that much of the wealth amassed by the richest people on the planet is tied up in the stock of their companies. When CEOs and other executives sell a large portion of their incredibly valuable stock, how do they avoid accusations of insider trading? The answer: they implement a Rule 10b5-1 plan.

FINRA Targets High-Risk Brokerage Firms With New Rule

For several years, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has sought to increase oversight of brokers who have a history of misconduct as well as the firms that hire these brokers. In an effort to disincentivize the recruitment of high-risk brokers, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently approved FINRA’s proposed Rule 4111, which subjects “restricted firms” to additional capital obligations and hiring restrictions. Specifically, FINRA Rule 4111 targets brokerage firms that have exceeded thresholds of risk-related or investor-harming disclosures compared to similarly sized peers. The new rule, which will go into effect in 2022, is designed to provide FINRA with greater authority to proactively address the risks posed to investors by rogue brokerage firms.

Mattresses & Money Laundering

Puja Valera Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023 Mattresses and money laundering – two very different topics that have been intertwined in mystery and conspiracy. On Medium, a journalist reported that a reddit user first introduced the concept that Mattress Firm, the largest mattress retailer in the world, is actually a …
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The Pandora Papers and the Bank Secrecy Act

The recent Pandora Papers leak in October 2021 shined the light on the massive and intricate web of offshore accounting that allows for insurmountable amounts of wealth to be hidden throughout the world. One of the most shocking revelations of these Papers was how heavily the United States was implicated in creating and perpetuating this system. As such, legislators have been pressured to find a way to crackdown on this sort of offshore money. One way that they have proposed addressing the problem is by amending the United States’ current criminal financial legislation, the Bank Secrecy Act.

SEC Brings First Charges Involving Regulation Crowdfunding

On September 20, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission charged three individuals with conducting fraudulent crowdfunding schemes while also bringing charges against the crowdfunding portal where the offerings were conducted in SEC v. Shumake. As the first case being pursued under Regulation Crowdfunding, a number of questions wait on the horizon regarding the responsibility of crowdfunding platforms to protect investors when orchestrating such offerings.

SEC Whistleblower Program Surpasses $1 Billion in Award Payouts

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reached a rather auspicious milestone in September when it announced that, with the addition of two recent awards totaling $114 million, the aggregate amount of monies paid out under the SEC’s whistleblower program since its implementation in 2011 has exceeded $1 billion. In fiscal year 2021 alone, the SEC has awarded a record $500 million. The SEC also reported that award payments have been made to a total of 207 whistleblowers. In a statement, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said, “[This] announcement underscores the important role that whistleblowers play in helping the SEC detect, investigate and prosecute potential violations of the securities laws.” The two most recent awards included a payment of $110 million to an individual who, according to the SEC, provided the SEC and another regulatory agency with “independent analysis that substantially advanced the SEC’s and the other agency’s investigation” and culminated in successful enforcement actions. Another whistleblower also provided original information to the SEC and received an award of approximately $4 million, although the smaller amount reflects the fact that the information passed on was significantly more limited in scope. As is its standard policy, the SEC declined to specifically name either of the whistleblowers involved or the cases and companies to which they were connected.

Coronavirus, Compliance, and the Brokerage Industry

COVID-19 has ushered in a new era for the brokerage industry as financial advisors and professionals across the world have been exiled from regional offices in favor of remote work. Numerous financial advisors may continue working remotely whether due to a novel sense of autonomy, elimination of a commute, or perceived increase in productivity. However, the remote-work era has introduced a plethora of compliance-related issues throughout the brokerage industry. Brokers working remotely possess additional independence to determine when to work and how to communicate with clients, which heightens compliance risks because firms are not able to monitor employees as stringently as they were before COVID-19. Federal regulators, including the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), are responding to newfound compliance risks by issuing updated guidance and investigating potential violations throughout the brokerage industry.