Private Company Ownership Secrecy Is In The Past
This topic has been sitting on my list since the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) proposed beneficial ownership reporting requirements for private companies back in December 2021. The final rules were adopted in October 2022 and I’m finally unpacking this doozy. The new FinCEN rules implement provisions of the Corporate Transparency Act which, in turn, has been law since October 2019. The regulations create new federal filing requirements applicable to a wide range of entities, including operating companies, holding companies, LLCs and others. The goal of the rule is to enhance FinCEN’s ability to protect national security and the financial system, by providing information that can be used by national security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies.
Corporate Transparency Act of 2019
The Corporate Transparency Act requires small corporations and limited liability companies to disclose information about their beneficial owners. Under the Act, a beneficial owner is an individual who (i) exercises substantial control over
Proposed 2021 U.S. Budget
In February, the Office of Management and Budget released the proposed fiscal 2021 United States government budget. The beginning of the Budget contains a message from President Trump delineating a list of key priorities of the administration including better trade deals, preserving peace through strength, overcoming the opioid crisis, regulation relief and American energy independence. The budget has some notable aspects that directly relate to the capital markets and its participants.
As the federal government has been doing for all agencies, the 2021 Budget seeks to eliminate agency reserve funds. Specifically regarding the SEC, the Budget cuts the SEC reserve by $50 million. The reduction in reserve fund is thought to increase overall accountability as the SEC would need to go to Congress to ask for additional funds if needed, with an explanation, instead of just accessing a reserve account. Reserve fund cuts are sent to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction.
However, the Budget also increases the
The SEC, FinCEN And CFTC Issue A Joint Statement On Digital Assets
On October 11, 2019 the SEC, FinCEN and CFTC issued a joint statement on activities involving digital assets. Various agencies have been consistently working together, with overlapping jurisdiction, on matters involving digital assets and distributed ledger technology. Earlier, in August, the SEC and FINRA issued a joint statement on the custody of digital assets, including as it relates to broker-dealers and investment advisors (see HERE).
The purpose of the joint statement is to remind persons engaged in activities involving digital assets of their anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). AML/CFT obligations apply to entities that the BSA defines as “financial institutions,” such as futures commission merchants and introducing brokers obligated to register with the CFTC, money services businesses (MSBs) as defined by FinCEN (for more information on MSBs see HERE), and broker-dealers and mutual funds obligated to register
FINRA Examines Fintech Including Blockchain
On July 30, 2018, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published a Special Notice seeking public comments on how FINRA can support fintech developments including those related to data aggregation services, supervisory processes, including with the use of artificial intelligence, and the development of a taxonomy-based, machine-readable rulebook. The Special Notice, and fintech in general, necessarily includes blockchain technology, a topic FINRA has been examining for a few years now. Last July, FINRA held a Blockchain Symposium to assess the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in the financial industry, and earlier in January 2017 FINRA issued a report entitled “Distributed Ledger Technology: Implications of Blockchain for the Securities Industry” on the topic (see HERE).
Also, on July 6, 2018, FINRA sent Regulatory Notice 18-20 to its members asking all FINRA member firms to notify FINRA if they engage in activities related to digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, virtual coins and tokens. FINRA informs members that it is
FinCEN’S Role In Cryptocurrency Offerings
In the continuing dilemma over determining just what kind of asset a cryptocurrency is, multiple regulators have expressed opinions and differing views on regulations. Likewise, multiple regulators have conducted investigations and initiated enforcement proceedings against those in the cybersecurity space. The SEC has asserted the opinion that most, if not all, cryptocurrencies are securities; the CFTC has found them to be commodities; the IRS’s official definition is the same as the CFTC, and in particular a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value, and now the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has asserted that issuers of cryptocurrencies are money transmitters.
In particular, in a letter written to the US Senate Committee on Finance on February 13, 2018, FinCEN indicates that it expects issuers of initial coin offerings (ICOs) to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), including its anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC)
FinCEN Updates Due Diligence Rules
On May 11, 2016, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued new final rules under the Bank Secrecy Act requiring financing institutions, including brokerage firms, to adopt additional anti-money laundering (AML) procedures that include specific due diligence and ongoing monitoring requirements related to customer risk profiles and customer information. In addition, the new rules require financial institutions to collect and verify information about beneficial owners and control person of legal entity customers.
The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) specifically requires brokerage firms to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act. FinCEN provides minimum rules. Brokerage firms are also required to comply with AML rules established by FINRA, including FINRA Rule 3310. The purpose of the AML rules is to help detect and report suspicious activity including the predicate offenses to money laundering and terrorist financing, such as securities fraud and market manipulation. FINRA also provides a template to assist small firms in establishing and complying with AML procedures. As