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Financial Industry Developments

SEC Proposes Amendments to Implement JOBS Act Mandate for Exchange Act Registration Requirements

As mandated by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), on December 17 the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the issuance of proposed amendments to revise the rules related to the thresholds for registration, termination of registration, and suspension of reporting under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Among other things, the proposal would:

  • Amend Exchange Act Rules 12g-1 through 4 and 12h-3 which govern the procedures relating to registration, termination of registration under Section 12(g), and suspension of reporting obligations under Section 15(d) to reflect the new thresholds established by the JOBS Act
  • Apply the definition of "accredited investor" in Rule 501(a) under the Securities Act of 1933 to determinations as to which record holders are accredited investors for purposes of Exchange Act Section 12(g)(1).  The accredited investor determination would be made as of the last day of the fiscal year.

The JOBS Act revised Exchange Act Section 12(g) to raise the threshold at which an issuer is required to register a class of equity securities.  Under the revised threshold, an issuer that is not a bank or bank holding company is required to register a class of equity securities under the Exchange Act if it has more than $10 million of total assets and the securities are "held of record" by either 2,000 persons, or 500 persons who are not accredited investors.

The SEC will seek public comment on the proposed rule amendments for 60 days following their publication in the Federal Register.

Federal Reserve Acts to Extend Conformance Period Under Volcker Rule for Legacy Covered Funds Until July 2017

On December 18, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it has acted under Section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as the Volcker Rule, to give banking entities until July 21, 2016, to conform investments in and relationships with covered funds (i.e., most private equity and hedge funds) and foreign funds that were in place prior to December 31, 2013 ("Legacy Covered Funds").  The Board also announced its intention to act next year to grant banking entities an additional one-year extension of the conformance period until July 21, 2017, to conform ownership interests in and relationships with Legacy Covered Funds.

Section 619 generally prohibits insured depository institutions and any company affiliated with an insured depository institution from engaging in proprietary trading and from acquiring or retaining ownership interests in, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with a hedge fund or private equity fund.

The Board previously extended the conformance period to July 21, 2015, when the agencies adopted rules to implement Section 619. The Board also previously issued a statement in April 2014 indicating that it intended to grant two additional one-year extensions of the conformance period for banking entities to conform ownership interests in and sponsorship activities of collateralized loan obligations ("CLOs") that are backed in part by non-loan assets and that were in place as of December 31, 2013. The December 18 action is consistent with the Board's previous announcement regarding CLOs and extends the conformance period for other types of Legacy Covered Funds.

SEC Extends Expiration of Rule 206(3)-3T, Regarding Principal Trades, to December 31, 2016

On December 17, the Securities and Exchange Commission amended Rule 206(3)-3T under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to extend the expiration date of the Rule from December 31, 2014 to December 31, 2016.  Rule 206(3)-3T is a temporary rule that establishes an alternative means for investment advisers that are registered with the Commission as broker-dealers to meet the requirements of Section 206(3) of the Advisers Act when they act in a principal capacity in transactions with certain of their advisory clients.  Report.

Rating Agency Developments

On January 7, Fitch revised its criteria for rating U.S. Public Finance Short-Term DebtCriteria.

On January 7, DBRS released its methodology for surveillance of North American CMBSMethodology.

On January 6, Fitch released its global criteria for rating Dealer Floorplan ABSCriteria.

On January 5, DBRS released its  Master European RMBS Rating Methodology and Jurisdictional AddendaMethodology.

RMBS and Other Securities Litigation

Phoenix Light Sues Five RMBS Trustees Over $2.4 Billion in RMBS

On December 23 and 24, Phoenix Light SF Limited and other RMBS certificateholders filed suit against HSBC, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, U.S. Bank, and Bank of America in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York regarding $2.4 billion in RMBS. The complaints assert causes of action under the Trust Indenture Act and a provision of the New York Real Property Law known as the Streit Act, as well as under state law for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, gross negligence, and negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiffs allege that the trustees breached their duties under the governing trust agreements by failing to notify the investors of deficiencies in the loans, failing to take action to address those alleged deficiencies, and failing to require the repurchase of defective loans. Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages and unspecified equitable relief.  HSBC Complaint. Wells Fargo Complaint. Deutsche Bank Complaint. BNY Mellon Complaint. U.S. Bank and Bank of America Complaint.

NCUA Sues U.S. Bank and Bank of America for Allegedly Failing to Comply with RMBS Trustee Duties

On December 16, National Credit Union Administration filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against U.S. Bank N.A. and Bank of America N.A., in their capacity as trustees for 99 RMBS trusts. NCUA filed the suit as liquidating agent for five failed credit unions collectively alleged to have purchased certificates in the trusts at issue. NCUA alleges that U.S. Bank and Bank of America breached their duties under the governing trust agreements by failing to properly review and monitor the loans backing the RMBS, failing to notify the investors of deficiencies in the loans, failing to take action to address those alleged deficiencies, and failing to require the repurchase of defective loans. The complaint asserts causes of action under the Trust Indenture Act and the Streit Act, a New York statute that governs administration of mortgage trusts, and seeks compensatory damages and unspecified equitable relief. Complaint.

U.S. Bank Reaches $6 Million Settlement of Claims for Breach of RMBS Trustee Duties

On December 17, the parties in Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System v. U.S. Bank, N.A., No. 11-cv-8066 (S.D.N.Y.) asked the court to approve a $6 million settlement of class action claims asserted against U.S. Bank in its capacity as trustee for five RMBS trusts sponsored by Bear Stearns. The class consisted of 1,800 investors who had bought certificates in the trusts. Claims related to nine other trusts had been dismissed earlier in the litigation and were not included in the settlement. The complaint included claims for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the federal Trust Indenture Act. Motion for Approval. Settlement Agreement.

$95 Million Settlement Approved in Morgan Stanley RMBS Case

On December 18, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York approved a $95 million settlement to end a class action brought by RMBS investors against Morgan Stanley. The complaint alleged that Morgan Stanley made material misrepresentations regarding its appraisals and underwriting standards of the underlying mortgages in the marketing and sale of the RMBS. Judge Forrest also granted lead plaintiffs' application for approximately $17.2 million in attorneys' fees and expenses. Final Judgment. Order Granting Attorneys' Fees and Expenses.

NCUA Sues Wells Fargo for Allegedly Failing to Comply with RMBS Trustee Duties

On December 22, National Credit Union Administration sued Wells Fargo, as an RMBS trustee, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. NCUA filed the suit in its capacity as liquidating agent for five credit unions, collectively alleged to have purchased $2.4 billion in 27 RMBS trusts for which Wells Fargo served as trustee. NCUA alleges that Wells Fargo breached its duties under the governing trust agreements by failing to properly review and monitor the loans underlying the RMBS, failing to notify the investors of deficiencies in the loans, failing to take action to address those alleged deficiencies, and failing to require the repurchase of defective loans. The complaint asserts causes of action under the Trust Indenture Act and a provision of the New York Real Property Law known as the Streit Act. Complaint.

Ambac Sues Countrywide For Alleged Fraud in Connection with $1.7 Billion in RMBS

On December 27, Ambac Assurance Corporation filed a complaint against several Countrywide entities and Bank of America Corporation in New York state court, seeking to recover at least $600 million in damages in connection with claims payments Ambac allegedly made under insurance policies it issued on eight RMBS trusts. Ambac alleges that between 2005 and 2007, Countrywide made false and misleading statements at meetings with Ambac and in prospectus supplements and loan tapes issued in connection with the trusts that induced Ambac to issue its insurance policies. Ambac asserts a cause of action for fraudulent inducement against the Countrywide entities and a cause of action for successor liability against Bank of America. Complaint.

Second Circuit Holds that Trust Indenture Act Does Not Apply and Dismisses RMBS Investor Claims Against BNY Mellon

On December 23, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed claims against Bank of New York Mellon, as trustee, by four pension funds in a putative class action relating to 530 Countrywide RMBS trusts worth $424 billion. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to assert claims related to certificates issued by trusts in which no plaintiff ever invested. The court further held that the Trust Indenture Act (TIA) does not apply to the trusts because they are "certificate[s] of interest or participation in two or more securities having substantially different rights and privileges" and therefore within an exemption to the TIA. As a result, the court reversed the district court's decision denying the bank's motion to dismiss claims under the TIA. Decision.

U.S. Bank Sues Citigroup in Connection with $528 Million of RMBS

On December 22 and 23, U.S. Bank National Association, as trustee for three RMBS trusts, filed three separate summonses with notice in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. U.S. Bank alleges that Citigroup misrepresented the quality of mortgage loans underlying $528 million in RMBS, and that it breached its duties as servicer by failing to notify the trustee of representation and warranty breaches that it discovered. The trustee seeks compensatory and rescissory damages, along with repurchase of loans not complying with the applicable representations and warranties. Summons with Notice (2007-AMC2). Summons with Notice (2007-AHL2). Summons with Notice (2007-AR7).

European Financial Industry Developments

ESMA Publishes Technical Advice on MiFID II

The European Securities and Markets Authority ("ESMA") published final technical advice on December 19 to the European Commission, and a consultation paper on the MiFID II Directive and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation ("MiFIR").

The consultation paper includes draft regulatory technical standards and implementing standards under the MiFID II Directive and MiFIR. Consultation closes on March 2. The accompanying press release is found at the following link:  press release.

EIOPA Updates Risk Dashboard

On December 18, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority ("EIOPA") published an updated version of its risk dashboard (dated December 19), together with a background note (dated December 4).

EIOPA states that the risk environment facing the insurance sector remains challenging. Among others, the dashboard suggests that the overall outlooks for macroeconomic risks seems to be worsening, and that profitability challenges remain, due to low investment yields.

European Commission Guidance on Implementing Russian Sanctions

On December 18, the government published a European Commission notice (dated December 16) containing guidance on implementing certain provisions of EU Regulation 833/2014.

The notice explains that the Regulation relates to restrictive measures targeting sectorial co-operation and exchanges with the Russian Federation including, among other things, measures aimed at limiting access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions. The guidance is designed to help national authorities and other relevant parties (including EU financial institutions) to implement the Regulation in a uniform manner.

The guidance takes the form of answers to certain questions that have been brought to the Commission's attention. In relation to the financial services measures, the Q&As cover trade finance, emergency funding, loans (other than for trade finance or emergency funding), and capital markets.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

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JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

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Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

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Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

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Contacting JD Supra

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We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

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Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

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