Here are some recent compliance related stories that caught my attention:
The editors of the ABA Journal are gearing up to select their annual list of the 100 best legal blogs, the Blawg 100. And they are seeking suggestions of blogs they should include. “Tell us about a blawg—not your own—that you read regularly and think other lawyers should know about,” they ask.
To nominate a law blog you think should be included, go to the Blawg 100 Amici page and submit it to the editors.
Breach Notification Obligations In All 50 States? by Kristen J. Mathews in Proskauer’s Privacy Law Blog
Did you know there are breach notification obligations in all 50 states (effective 9/2012), even though only 46 states have adopted them? How could that be, you ask? Because Texas said so. (Does that surprise you?)
Texas recently amended its breach notification law so that its consumer notification obligations apply not only to residents of Texas, but to any individual whose sensitive personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by an unauthorized person. Texas’s amended law (H.B. 300) specifically requires notification of data breaches to residents of states that have not enacted their own law requiring such notification (that is, Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico and South Dakota).
Fair Valuation of Assets under Management Is Key Element of SEC Regime for Hedge Fund and Private Fund Advisers in Jim Hamilton’s World of Securities Regulation
Acting on a Dodd-Frank mandate, the SEC adopted regulations requiring that hedge fund and private fund advisers with $150 million assets under management register with the Commission. Given the $150 million asserts under management trigger for registration, the fair valuation of a fund’s assets is a critical element of the new regime. The SEC said in Adopting Release No. IA-3222 that hedge fund and private fund advisers must determine the amount of their assets under management based on the market value of those assets, or the fair value of those assets where market value is unavailable. They must calculate the assets on a gross basis, that is, without deducting liabilities, such as accrued fees and expenses or the amount of any borrowing. If a fund does not have an internal capability for valuing illiquid assets, the SEC expects it to obtain pricing or valuation services from an outside administrator or other service provider.
Former FrontPoint Manager Pleads Guilty to Insider Trading by Azam Ahmed in Dealbook
The portfolio manager, Joseph F. Skowron, known as Chip, admitted before a federal judge in Manhattan that he had avoided $30 million in losses by trading on tips leaked by a consultant for an expert network about the results of a clinical drug trial. He also admitted that he and the consultant, Dr. Yves Benhamou, had agreed to mislead the Securities and Exchange Commission about their actions. Mr. Skowron faces as much as five years in prison for the one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruct justice and will pay a $5 million fine.
Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes? by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone
Flynn discovered a directive on the enforcement division’s internal website ordering staff to destroy “any records obtained in connection” with closed MUIs. The directive appeared to violate federal law, which gives responsibility for maintaining and destroying all records to the National Archives and Records Administration. Over a decade earlier, in fact, the SEC had struck a deal with NARA stipulating that investigative records were to be maintained for 25 years – and that if any files were to be destroyed after that, the shredding was to be done by NARA, not the SEC.
But Flynn soon learned that the records for thousands of preliminary investigations no longer existed. In his letter to Congress, Flynn estimates that the practice of destroying MUIs had begun as early as 1993, and has resulted in at least 9,000 case files being destroyed.
Matt Taibbi may actually be right that it breaks the law – he has, on occasion, been right about facts in the world, though it’s often a coincidence. Here he suggests that some SEC staffers were worried about personal criminal liability for not archiving records of preliminary inquiries, which sounds a little far-fetched but possible. And there are some more interesting accusations here – including some suggestive coincidences where SEC enforcement execs squashed investigations and then left for the firms that were being investigated. But we were always under the impression that the trouble with Big Brother was too much all-pervading surveillance, not too little.