The court held that the “personal benefit” test for insider trading established by the Supreme Court in Dirks v. SEC does not apply to wire and securities fraud under Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Additionally, the court held that confidential government information constitutes “property” for the purposes of federal fraud statutes. The ruling will make it easier for the government to prosecute insider trading even when there is no clear benefit to the source who provided the information. (footnote omitted)
via TheCorporateCounsel.net, GD&C, S&C, Milbank, Akin Gump, WF&G, Andrew Vollmer, Alison Frankel, John C. Coffee Jr.
(4). SEC to seek fiduciary standard for broker-dealers
The conventional wisdom is that Trump appointees will remove, rather than add, new regulatory requirements, but there are a few critical areas that belie this expectation. For example, Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has expressed a strong commitment to tackle the fiduciary standard for brokers in 2018. The Department of Labor recently delayed until mid-2019 the implementation of key provisions of its fiduciary rule that applies to transactions with retirement account clients. The delay provides breathing room for coordination on a consistent approach by the two agencies. Look for possible complications, however, due to the arrival of two new commissioners at the SEC this year, each of whom may have very different views of the necessity and impact of moving from a suitability to a fiduciary standard for brokers.
(5). More enforcement actions related to virtual currencies
We expect the explosion of public interest in the trading of virtual currencies and virtual-currency-related products to continue. US regulators spent much of the second half of 2017 actively focused on these products and the regulatory issues they raised. The SEC, CFTC and state regulators all warned the public of the potential risks of trading in these products. While agencies brought enforcement actions in instances of clear fraud or manipulation, for the most part their efforts have been focused on clarifying the scope of their authority and the application of their regulations to these activities. We believe this approach is likely to shift very quickly and sharply as the regulators pivot to an enforcement mode. Market participants, particularly those involved in offering or selling unregistered securities or who deal in these products without the necessary licences, will be much more likely to face enforcement action than in the past.
Davis Polk writes:
This season ISS is tracking only 10 proposals seeking to declassify boards, a two-third drop from the number of proposals in 2014. This is likely attributable to the absence of assistance from the Harvard Shareholder Rights Project. The Harvard group indicated that it has completed the declassification project that it started in 2011 and the clinic is not operating during the current academic year. Of S&P 500 companies, 75% now have annually elected boards.
Majority voting proposals also dropped, from 50 in 2014 to 10 this year. 86% of large-cap companies use majority voting standards for election of directors.
via Davis Polk Briefing: Governance