On April 28, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint against a company and its chief executive officer (“CEO”) for alleged fraud in connection with the company’s stated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its complaint, the SEC alleged that the company issued two press releases containing false or misleading statements in which the company purported to be negotiating the sale of N95 masks and then made claims that it was in possession of N95 masks. After regulators inquired about these claims, the SEC alleged that the company issued a third press release a month later that it did not have any N95 masks on hand. The complaint asserts that the company’s stock trading volume and stock price increased significantly as a result of the initial press releases.
Continue Reading SEC Alleges COVID-19 Related Fraud by a Company after Suspending Trading

On April 14, 2020, the staff of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management (the “Division”) published a Statement on the Importance of Delivering Timely and Material Information to Investment Company Investors (the “Statement”). The Statement gives notice that the Division has a keen eye on prospectus risk disclosure as it continues to monitor the ongoing impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic on investment companies. “In light of the current uncertainties and market disruptions,” the Division explains, “investors need high-quality financial information more than ever.”

The Statement comes amid other guidance and temporary regulatory relief from the SEC, including public statements by Chairman Jay Clayton and Chief Accountant Sagar Teotia emphasizing the need to assist “Main Street investors” in navigating turbulent markets. Uniquely, the Statement focuses explicitly on how fund complexes might modify existing disclosures.
Continue Reading SEC Staff Speaks to COVID-19 and Fund Prospectus Disclosure

The SEC’s Division of Investment Management has posted Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response FAQs (the “FAQs”), which have been updated through April 14, 2020. The FAQs summarize and provide links to various forms of relief granted by the SEC and the Division to registered investment companies and investment advisers. A list of the questions addressed is provided below.
Continue Reading SEC Provides a Consolidated Reference for COVID-19 Relief for Investment Companies and Advisers

In recognition of the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the Division of Investment Management (the “Division”) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) will require interested persons to submit written hearing requests for filed exemptive applications by sending an e-mail to the SEC’s Secretary at Secretarys-Office@sec.gov rather than sending a request to the SEC by physical mail. The Division will reflect this e-mail requirement in forthcoming notices. In addition, the Division is offering applicants the option to provide an e-mail address to be included in the SEC’s notice of their application so that interested persons may serve applicants by e-mail (instead of by mail or personally).
Continue Reading The Division of Investment Management Responds to COVID-19’s Impact on Requests for Hearings on Exemptive Applications

On April 7, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced an update to the EDGAR system that would allow negative values to be entered in Item C.17 of Form N-MFP. Money market funds use Form N-MFP to report information to the SEC as of the end of each month. Item C.17 requires, for each security held by the fund, “[t]he yield of the security as of the reporting date.” The change was prompted by the recent downturn in rates for one-month and three-months Treasury bills, which may also have prompted some Treasury money market funds to restrict new investments.
Continue Reading A Negative Sign of the Times: Form N-MFP Can Report Negative Yields

On April 7, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) published two risk alerts intended to provide market participants with advance information regarding (1) upcoming inspections for broker-dealer compliance with Regulation Best Interest (“Regulation BI”) and (2) upcoming inspections for broker-dealer and investment adviser compliance with Form CRS. The compliance date for both Regulation BI and Form CRS is June 30, 2020.

You can find more details in our client alert.
Continue Reading SEC Staff Publishes Risk Alerts Regarding Reg BI and Form CRS Inspections and Possible COVID-19 Impact

On March 23, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a relief order (the “Order”) granting temporary short-term lending and borrowing flexibility to open-end funds and insurance company separate accounts (each, a “fund”) to assist such funds in dealing with market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order temporarily permits a fund to borrow from its affiliated persons. It also expands such fund’s flexibility for lending or borrowing under an existing interfund lending exemptive order (“IFL Order”); a fund without an IFL Order will be permitted to participate in an interfund lending arrangement under similar conditions. Lastly, a fund may temporarily engage in borrowing or lending arrangements that may deviate from its fundamental investment policies. The Order covers transactions involving second-tier affiliated persons as well (first and second tier affiliated persons are referred to as “fund affiliates”).

This temporary relief is in effect until at least June 30, 2020. After the effective period, funds will have two weeks to cease activities carried out in reliance on the Order, once the SEC issues a public notice terminating the Order. Before relying on this temporary relief, a fund will need to comply with the various conditions in the Order.
Continue Reading SEC Grants Mutual Funds Short-Term Borrowing/Lending Relief in Response to COVID-19

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting market liquidity issues impacting regulated investment companies, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management (the “Division”) recently issued a no-action letter (the “No-Action Letter”) providing temporary relief from the prohibitions of Section 17(a) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”) to open-end funds that are not exchange-traded funds or money market funds (“mutual funds”). The Division issued the No-Action Letter to address concerns of short term “market dislocation” involving debt securities and mutual funds’ need to increase liquidity to satisfy shareholder redemption requests. This post summarizes the conditions to this relief.
Continue Reading SEC Provides No-Action Relief Extending Rule 17a-9 to Non-Money Market Funds

On March 25, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) published new relief that supersedes its March 13, 2020 order for investment advisers filing and delivery obligations of Form ADV and Form PF. We have updated our original post to reflect the relief provided in the SEC’s new March 25 order. This new order extends

On March 26, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), announced two agency actions providing additional relief to market participants in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on the markets. First, the SEC adopted an interim final rule providing relief related to (a) market participants needing to gain access to make filings on the EDGAR system and (b) certain company filing obligations under Regulation A and Regulation Crowdfunding. Second, the SEC published a temporary conditional exemptive order providing relief from certain filing requirements for municipal advisors.

This blog post summarizes the SEC relief and conditions to the relief.
Continue Reading SEC Provides Additional Regulatory Relief in Wake of COVID-19