• Posts by Allison A. Westfall
    Partner

    As a partner in the firm’s Business Representation & Transactions Group, Allie Westfall’s insight and proven analytical skills help translate the complexities of the often-challenging securities laws.  Allie’s counsel ...

On December 15, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (the “NPRM”) that would implement provisions of the Corporate Transparency Act (the “CTA”) regarding access to and protection of beneficial ownership information (“BOI”).

On December 14, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission amended insider trading rules by adopting new trading restrictions and disclosures to address potential abuses by executives. According to SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s statements in the SEC’s press release these amendments are needed to fill “potential gaps” where insiders trade “opportunistically on the basis of material nonpublic information.” The new rules amend Rule 10b5-1’s affirmative defense provisions to insider trading liability, create new reporting requirements for issuers, and update beneficial ownership reporting requirements for insiders.

On October 7, 2022, the SEC reopened the public comment periods for eleven proposed rules including, among others, proposed rules relating to the following: the enhancement and standardization of climate-related disclosures for investors; enhanced ESG disclosures for investment funds and investment advisers; cybersecurity breach and risk disclosures; share buyback disclosures; and SPAC projections. The SEC reopened the comment periods after it discovered a technological error had prevented it from receiving certain comments.  While affected comments were largely submitted in August 2022, the error is reported to have occurred as early as June 2021.

On September 29, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued the highly anticipated final rule, Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Requirements (the “Final Rule”), implementing the beneficial ownership disclosure requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act (the “CTA”). The CTA drastically expands current beneficial ownership reporting obligations in order to combat the illicit use of shell companies and to shift the burden of identifying beneficial owners of such companies from financial institutions to the government itself.

On May 2, 2022 the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance issued a sample comment letter addressing disclosures companies should consider regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The SEC Staff believes companies should provide detailed disclosures of their direct or indirect exposure to Russia, Belarus, and/or Ukraine including through operations, investments, and potential cybersecurity and supply chain risks. A link to the sample letter is here.

The sample comment letter lists several topics subject to disclosure consideration the SEC Staff will focus on:

  • Companies ...

On March 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) at a virtual open meeting proposed rules to expand and standardize issuers’ climate-related disclosures. The proposed rules would utilize mandatory, prescriptive disclosures in periodic reports and registration statements to address topics related to greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and global climate change. The Commission acknowledged that in 2010, the SEC required disclosure of climate-related impacts on issuers’ businesses but since then, awareness of climate-related incidents, GHG ...

On March 9, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) proposed amendments to rules to expand and standardize disclosures regarding cybersecurity risk management, strategy, governance, and incident reporting by public companies. The proposed rules respond to investor concerns related to the growing prevalence of cybersecurity incidents, the increasingly sophisticated methods of cyber criminals in executing their attacks, and the susceptibility of public companies of all sizes operating in all industries to cybersecurity incidents that can stem from ...

On November 29, 2021, the SEC updated accounting guidance for public companies issuing equity awards to executives ahead of market-moving information. Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB) No. 120 cautions issuers to pay particular attention to non-routine spring-loaded awards.

Spring-loaded awards are a type of equity compensation granted by a public company shortly before the announcement of material non-public information such as an earnings release with positive results or the announcement of a material transaction.

The FASB rule known as Topic 718 generally requires that ...

In another victory for ESG proponents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, on November 3, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance issued Staff Legal Bulletin 14L which rescinds previously issued interpretive guidance related to a company’s ability to exclude ESG-related shareholder proposals from its proxy statement. Bulletin 14L effectively realigns the staff’s approach for determining whether a shareholder proposal relates to “ordinary business” which, under Rule 14a-8(i)(7) can serve as the basis for a company’s exclusion of a shareholder proposal.

On September 29, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission released a notice filed by the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) of a proposed rule change. The NYSE seeks approval of a proposed amendment to the shareholder voting requirement set forth in Section 312.07 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual (the “Manual”).

Currently, Section 312.07 provides that, where shareholder approval is required for the listing of any new or additional securities, or where any matter requires shareholder approval, including for stock issuances pursuant to an equity compensation plan, the ...

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