On Nov. 5 the Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight of the CFTC announced that it had published responses to frequently asked questions regarding Form CPO-PQR and Form CTA-PR (the Responses). The Responses address a wide range of issues for commodity pool operators (CPOs) and commodity trading advisors (CTAs) to consider in filing, as relevant, Forms CPO-PQR and CTA-PR (the Forms). The issues addressed in the Responses include, among other things, (1) the identity of the entity that is required to complete and file the Forms, including in the context of co-CPOs; (2) the calculation of assets under management for purposes of determining whether a CPO is a mid-sized or large CPO and for other reporting purposes; (3) reporting for pools for which a CPO is able to claim an exemption for registration under CFTC Regulations 4.5 or 4.13(a)(3); (4) the ability of a CPO that is also an SEC-registered investment adviser and files a Form PF to use the Form PF to satisfy, in part, its Form CPO-PQR filing requirement; (5) the application of various items of the Form CPO-PQR to different fund structures, including master-feeders, parallel pools and managed accounts; and (6) the Form CTA-PR filing obligations of sub-advisors to primary advisors that are also CTAs. Also, as a follow-up to the Responses, on Nov. 10 the National Futures Association (NFA) published a Notice to CPOs and CTAs addressing EasyFile logistics regarding each of Form CPO-PQR and Form CTA-PR. EasyFile is the system through which CPOs and CTAs file the Forms. In addition to responding to certain frequently asked questions relating to the filing of the Forms, the NFA also included a tutorial video and other resources to assist CPOs and CTAs with the filings.
On Nov. 9 the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) released a risk alert reporting observations from its examination of investment advisers and investment companies that outsource their Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) duties to unaffiliated third-parties. As part of this Outsourced CCO Initiative, the SEC Staff noted that the role of CCO (a role mandated under Investment Advisers Act and Investment Company Act rules) is increasingly being outsourced by advisers and investment companies. Though OCIE noted that it found many strong third-party CCO practices in its initiative, it also identified several practices that should be strengthened. Separately worthy of note is that, in a recent Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) rule proposal to require investment advisers to establish anti-money laundering programs, FinCEN suggested that “[a] person designated as a compliance officer should be an officer of the investment adviser.” If FinCEN maintains this position following adoption of a final AML program rule for investment advisors, then investment advisers subject to the rule may need to closely scrutinize circumstances in which they delegate responsibility for management of their AML programs to a third-party.
Goodwin Procter’s Capital Markets practice issued a client alert on the SEC’s Division of Corporate Finance’s recent modification of its guidance regarding “unbundling” of voting on separate matters to require that when the corporate governance of the company which survives a merger will be changed in a material respect by the merger, the shareholders of both the acquiror and the target company must be able to vote separately on the change in the acquiror’s governance, in addition to voting on whether to approve the merger.
On Nov. 10 the MSRB announced that it is seeking public comment, by Regulatory Notice 2015-22, on a proposal to facilitate shortening the settlement cycle for transactions in municipal securities in response to a securities industry-led initiative to shift the current settlement cycle for all fixed-income and equity securities from T+3 to T+2 (trade date plus two days). The proposal would include amendments to Rule G-12, on uniform practice, and G-15, on confirmation, clearance, settlement and other uniform practice requirements with respect to transactions with customers. Comments are due Dec. 10.
On Nov. 6, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) received approval from the SEC of amendments to MSRB Rules G-8 and G-20 to limit the size and nature of gifts, gratuities and non-cash compensation given by municipal advisors and their associated persons in their professional capacity advising state and local governments. The amended regulations prohibit gifts in excess of $100 per person per year, with exclusions including bereavement gifts and compensation for services, and also prohibit dealers and municipal advisors from receiving reimbursement of certain entertainment expenses from the proceeds of an offering of municipal securities. The regulations are intended to address conflicts of interest that may arise from gift-giving in connection with municipal advisory activities and will become effective on May 6, 2016.
Goodwin Procter’s Privacy & Cybersecurity practice issued a client alert on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in a class action against The Cartoon Network regarding transfer to a third-party analytics firm of video viewing data from the network’s mobile application. The court concluded that users of the application were not “subscribers” for purposes of the VPPA and therefore not entitled to certain of its protections.