Crypto Platforms Under Scrutiny by Various U.S. Agencies
Since the beginning of 2023, the cryptocurrency market has faced legal action from multiple U.S. agencies in efforts to control a sector that, until recently, mostly operated beyond the bounds of conventional financial regulation. As a result of the executive order issued by the Biden Administration in March 2022, various federal agencies examined the risk and benefits of cryptocurrencies and have issued official reports. These reports have led to coordinated action against the crypto market. The administration aims to “ensure that cryptocurrencies cannot undermine financial stability, to protect investors, and to hold bad actors accountable.” In their attempts to promote regulation, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury, have acted against the crypto market on several fronts, frightening off bank allies, suing crypto firms for violating investor protection laws, and targeting exchanges connected to money laundering.
Congress Trades on Trust
When Nancy Pelosi releases financial disclosures related to stock trades, those disclosures are filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The Clerk publishes all financial disclosures on clerk.house.gov under the “disclosures” tab. Shortly thereafter, Pelosi’s stock trading disclosures are re-published on TikTok and Reddit where Zoomers and Millennials are copying all of her trades. According to a Pelosi spokesperson, she does not “personally own any stocks and that the transactions are made by her husband”. The Stock Act requires Pelosi to disclose these transactions within 45 days due to the fact that they are made by a member of her immediate family.
Agency Officials Trade Stock in Companies their Agencies Oversee
More than 2,500 government officials ranging from the Commerce Department to the Treasury Department reported owning stock in companies whose share prices correspond to decisions made by their respective agencies. With obvious conflicts of interest arising, what has happened, and what are some major takeaways from this investigative report?
The Sicker, The Better: Cigna Orchestrates Fraudulent Scheme to Defraud Government
Cigna Corporation (Cigna)–a global juggernaut in the insurance arena–faces a health care fraud lawsuit brought by the government under the federal False Claims Act (the FCA). By allegedly exaggerating patients’ illnesses to boost its own risk scores, Cigna secured inflated payments from the Medicare Advantage reimbursement system.
Congress Should Revisit the Federal Vacancies Reform Act
In 1998, Congress passed legislation to address vacancies created when a high-ranking official of an executive branch agency leaves their position. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) establishes a time limit of 210 days from the date of a vacancy for which a person may serve in an acting capacity in a position that is otherwise nominated by the President, with advice and consent of the Senate. The FVRA allows acting officials to serve beyond that time if there is a first or second nomination pending in the Senate for the vacancy. However, certain agencies have supplemental succession plans within their enabling statues that may supersede or complicate the FVRA.
Judge Scrutinizes Wells Fargo and FINRA Over Arbitration Selection Process
Throughout the history of the financial services industry, broker-dealers and investment advisory firms have typically required harmed investors to dispute matters through arbitration rather than the court system. Arbitration disputes between broker-dealers and former clients are generally kept confidential and decided by a purportedly impartial three-person panel; the panels are hand-selected by the parties from a randomly generated list of arbitrators employed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA utilizes a computer algorithm, the Neutral List Selection System (NLSS), which creates a list of potential arbitrators to review the matter based on the type of case. However, a recent court decision overturning a 2019 FINRA arbitration award in favor of Wells Fargo has flooded the financial services industry with widespread allegations of fraud and misconduct. In addition to vacating the arbitration award, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Belinda Edward criticized FINRA’s arbitration selection procedures as well as Wells Fargo for their role in altering the process. Wells Fargo is set to appeal the decision while FINRA now faces immense regulatory pressure to address its failure to facilitate a fair arbitration selection process.
2022: U.S. Privacy Chaos, Continued?
Conversation surrounding the hodgepodge of state data privacy legislation in the U.S. has long been a subject of frustration within the U.S. and abroad. 2021 saw a drastic uptick in awareness and a need for meaningful comprehensive consumer privacy laws. With both data privacy and cybersecurity repeatedly making front page news over the last year, and even becoming high priority within the Biden Administration, it has become one of the few issues on which people across the political spectrum can agree. But will 2022 be the year that comprehensive federal privacy legislation becomes a reality? Don’t count on it.
Big Tech vs the American Innovation and Choice Online Act
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are dominating the headlines with record-breaking profits and dismissals of antitrust lawsuits; however, that may not last long with new antitrust bills gaining traction in Congress. In fact, when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16 – 6 to advance a major antitrust bill on January 20, 2022, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, the tech companies stock prices dipped. Currently, with bipartisan support, the bill is on a path to pass the Senate.
Investor Choice Act Approved by House Committee
For several years, broker-dealers and investment advisory firms have typically required harmed investors to dispute matters through arbitration rather than the court system. However, the House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee has approved a bill aimed at prohibiting mandatory arbitration commonly imposed by broker-dealers and investment advisory firms. H.R. 2620, known as The Investor Choice Act, restricts investment advisors and broker-dealers from including pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in their client agreements. The Investor Choice Act addresses “long-standing and deeply unfair practices of forcing customers to resolve their claims through arbitration instead of as part of a class action,” according to Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee.
Prescribing Online with COVID-19
COVID-19 has rapidly changed the healthcare field unlike anything has before. With the continued spread, healthcare providers have started to adopt telehealth as a way to access patients and continue to provide quality care, without breaking their self-isolation. One avenue that has long been closed off for physicians has been online prescribing, but COVID-19 appears to be changing even that.