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Christopher Bosch is an associate in the Governmental Practice in the firm's New York office.

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, FINRA has announced that most FINRA staff will be working remotely, but will utilize remote work capabilities to remain “fully operational.” FINRA has also published guidance on its website regarding narrow regulatory relief, business continuity, arbitration, mediation, and disciplinary hearings, membership applications, FINRA-administered exams, events, and investor strategy.
Continue Reading FINRA’s COVID-19 Response

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) recently issued guidance in connection with firms’ relationships with third-party service providers.  These publications serve as a reminder
Continue Reading SEC and FINRA Signal Renewed Focus on Vendor Management in Two Key Areas: Cybersecurity and Market Access Rule Compliance

To gain insight into where the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) have been focusing their oversight and what their priorities will be in 2020, look no further than their recent words and deeds. A common thread running through the recent public statements and enforcement activity of both agencies is a commitment to maximizing the resources at their disposal to expedite resolutions, whether by leveraging technology, deploying multi-pronged approaches, engaging in industry outreach, or coordinating with fellow regulators.
Continue Reading Regulatory Moves Show Financial Watchdogs Working Smarter, if Not Harder

On April 29, 2019, just months into her new job at the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), acting DFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell announced a significant reorganization within the financial and insurance regulator. The new Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division (the “CPFED”) combines seven previously separate divisions and units – Enforcement, Investigations and Intelligence, the Civil Investigations Unit, the Producers Unit, the Consumer Examinations Unit, the Student Protection Unit, and the Holocaust Claims Processing Office – under a single executive deputy superintendent. Lacewell appointed Katherine Lemire, a former state and federal prosecutor, to head the newly-minted division.
Continue Reading New York DFS Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division: New Name, New Look, Old Mandate

Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) took a break from its recent focus on digital assets and the Best Interest fiduciary standard to publish a Risk Alert encouraging investment advisers and broker-dealers to revisit their policies and procedures relating to Regulation S-P (“Reg S-P”) (17 C.F.R. Part 248, Subpart A), which sets out requirements designed to protect customer information and records. The Alert highlights several key compliance issues identified by the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) during exams completed in the past two years.
Continue Reading SEC Issues Risk Alert on Customer Privacy Safeguards

Over the past couple of years, the crypto industry has come under heavy scrutiny from skeptical regulators seeking to root out fraud and protect investors amid the initial coin offering boom that generated over $4 billion in 2017. However, this skepticism is starting to give way to a more business-friendly attitude.

Crypto firms have made notable headway with regulators in recent months, securing authorizations to act as custodians of digital assets and working towards approval of the first bitcoin-based exchange traded fund (“ETF”). These developments may reflect an evolving collaborative environment that bodes well for the future of blockchain-based innovations.
Continue Reading Crypto Firms Make Inroads with State and Federal Regulators

On April 17, 2018, the New York State Attorney General (“NYAG”) sent a “Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative Questionnaire” to 13 companies operating virtual currency trading platforms. The questionnaire consists of 34 questions covering a number of topics, including ownership and control, operation and fees, trading policies and procedures, outages and other suspensions of trading, internal controls, and privacy and money laundering.  
Continue Reading New York’s AG Enters the Cryptocurrency Ring as Federal, State Authorities Find Regulatory Footing

There is universal acknowledgement that anti-money laundering (“AML”) monitoring has become progressively costlier (both in terms of time and money) since the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) was passed nearly five decades ago, and that compliance has become increasingly burdensome, especially for smaller regional and community institutions. According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), nearly one million suspicious activity reports (“SAR”) were filed in 2016 (up from 669,000 in 2013). According to a 2016 report by the Heritage Foundation, the cost of compliance with current AML rules could be as much as $8 billion a year. Notwithstanding the tremendous resources spent on AML compliance, money laundering is still rampant. The U.N. has estimated that the amount of money laundered every year is between $800 billion and $2 trillion dollars. However, according to a 2011 report issued by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, less than one percent of this amount is seized by law enforcement.
Continue Reading New Legislation Introduced in 2017 Signals the Beginning of a Strong Push for AML Reform

Blockchain technology (“Blockchain”), also known as Distributed Ledger Technology, stands poised to transform the future of the financial industry. Generally speaking, Blockchain enables the creation of a continuously growing ledger of transactions that is resistant to alteration and ensures the integrity of new transactions through a system of checks-and-balances built into the system’s code. The combination of its speed, versatility, and built-in security features lend the technology well to applications in the financial industry. In a timely effort, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) recently gathered top U.S. financial regulators and industry stakeholders to participate in its 2017 Blockchain Symposium. In a series of engaging discussions, panelists hashed out the potential benefits and pitfalls of the dynamic technology.
Continue Reading FINRA Fetes Emerging Blockchain Technology at Industry Conference

On April 10, 2017, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the Supreme Court’s 113th justice. While his experience on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals with cases involving financial regulation may be limited, certain of his decisions reflect an identifiable hostility towards executive agencies that, in his view, act in excess of the powers accorded them by statutory and constitutional law. These decisions suggest that the High Court’s newest justice will keep a close eye on how financial regulators go about their business.
Continue Reading Financial Regulators Take Note: The Supreme Court’s Newest Member is a Tough Taskmaster