Proposed Rules

SEC Proposes Rules for "Covered Clearing Agencies."

On March 12th, the SEC published for comment proposed rules for the oversight of clearing agencies that are deemed to be systemically important or that are involved in complex transactions, such as security-based swaps. Clearing agencies covered by the proposed rules would be subject to new requirements regarding their financial risk management, operations, governance, and disclosures to market participants and the public. The proposal also would establish procedures for the SEC to apply the new requirements to additional clearing agencies. Comments should be submitted within 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly. SEC Press Release.


Guidance​

Well-Known Seasoned Issuers.

On March 12th, the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance issued a revised statement concerning well-known seasoned issuer waivers.


Municipal Securities Amnesty.

On March 10th, the SEC announced a new Enforcement Division initiative to encourage issuers and underwriters of municipal securities to self-report certain violations of the federal securities laws rather than wait for their violations to be detected. Under the Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation Initiative ("MCDC Initiative"), the Enforcement Division will recommend standardized, favorable settlement terms to municipal issuers and underwriters who self-report that they have made inaccurate statements in bond offerings about their prior compliance with continuing disclosure obligations specified in Rule 15c2-12 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Eligibility for the MCDC Initiative is explained in a detailed announcement issued by the Enforcement Division. Issuers and underwriters must self-report by completing and submitting a questionnaireno later than September 10, 2014. SEC Press Release.


Other Developments

A Question of Perception.

On March 11th, InvestmentNews cited Diane Blizzard, associate director in the SEC's Division of Investment Management, as saying that the agency has received little hard data concerning the costs and benefits of harmonizing the fiduciary duty standard for investment advisors and broker-dealers. Blizzard's statements have sparked dismay from consumer advocates who claim to have submitted substantial amounts of information.Perception.


SEC Enters Currency Fray.​

On March 10th, Bloomberg reported the SEC has joined the investigation into whether currency traders manipulated prices. The SEC's focus is on whether currency price manipulation affected the markets for options and exchange-traded funds. SEC Investigation.SEC Enters Currency Fray.


Silencing the Whistleblowers.

On March 10th, the Washington Post reported the SEC is investigating allegations that employees at government contractor Kellogg Brown & Root who wish to report suspected fraud are required to sign confidentiality agreements prohibiting them from discussing their claims with anyone, including government investigators. Silence.Silencing the Whistleblowers.


Witness Weakness.

On March 10th, Reuters attributed the SEC's recent string of trial losses to poor witness preparation. Trial Prep.Witness Weakness.