News - Bates Research

Justice Department Coordinates Largest Ever Elder Fraud Sweep:

Bates News, Bates Research  |  03-14-19

Justice Department Coordinates Largest Ever Elder Fraud Sweep:

260 Global Defendants said to have Targeted 2 Million Americans, Mostly Elder

On March 7th, federal and state enforcement agencies announced they had embarked on a massive crackdown on financial fraud directed at seniors. As part of the “sweep,” the Justice Department reported the filing of criminal or civil charges against hundreds of alleged offenders as well as the launch of targeted public education efforts throughout the country. According to the United States Attorney General, the coordinated actions reached into every federal district across the country and served to underscore the government’s efforts to protect a vulnerable population and address this complex and widespread problem.

In our last post, Bates Research highlighted the CFPB's analysis of five years’ worth of SARs data relating to elder financial exploitation. The use of the information contained in these filings represents an attempt by regulators to create and use data to better understand the scope of the problem and to inform enforcement and public education efforts. In this article, we look at current efforts on the enforcement side, as represented by the actions undertaken last week.

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New CFPB Report finds SARS Filings on Elder Financial Exploitation Quadrupled from 2013 to 2017

Bates News, Bates Research  |  03-07-19

New CFPB Report finds SARS Filings on Elder Financial Exploitation Quadrupled from 2013 to 2017

A recent analysis by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) related to elder financial exploitation provides the most detailed look to date at the size and scope of this issue. Bates Group has been following the issue of senior financial exploitation for some time. The findings from the CFPB analysis affirm previous reports that senior financial abuse is pronounced, but that the current number of SARs filings “likely represent a tiny fraction of actual incidents.” In this article, we review the findings and recommendations contained in the new Report.

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Planning Your Response to FINRA’s 529 Initiative — Q&A with Bates Managing Director Alex Russell

Bates News, Bates Research, Compliance and Regulatory Alerts  |  02-25-19

Planning Your Response to FINRA’s 529 Initiative — Q&A with Bates Managing Director Alex Russell

Bates Research recently conducted a Q & A session with Alex Russell, Managing Director of Securities Litigation & Regulatory Enforcement at Bates, to discuss FINRA's new 529 Share Class Initiative. Alex talks about responding by FINRA's deadline and potential pitfalls firms should avoid when preparing their response.

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Latest Developments in Variable Annuities and Life Insurance

Bates News, Bates Research  |  02-21-19

Latest Developments in Variable Annuities and Life Insurance

In our last review of developments concerning variable annuities and life insurance, Bates discussed the SEC’s issuance of a comprehensive new rule proposal intended to create a “layered disclosure approach” for regulating these products. That proposal was issued against the backdrop of an ongoing debate among state insurance regulators on revising model legislation on “Suitability in Annuity Transactions.” The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) remains determined to create these standards and procedures for providing suitable recommendations to consumers, despite the likely impact and continuing uncertainty created by the unresolved SEC proposed Best Interest rulemaking.  

In this article, we update the most recent SEC action on variable contract disclosure as well as some important private sector activity, notably Ohio National Financial Services’ (“Ohio National”) strategic decision to pull out of the market for variable annuities.

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The State of Play on Cryptocurrency Regulation

Bates News, Bates Research, Compliance and Regulatory Alerts  |  02-13-19

The State of Play on Cryptocurrency Regulation

For legislators and regulators, writing rules for crypto-related assets requires balancing the tension between innovation and entrepreneurship, and between sound markets and investor protection. Bates Research has previously described some of the definitional challenges which directly affect which agencies govern crypto assets. In this article, we review recent developments in the ongoing debate over regulating crypto, including legislative proposals, and regulatory activity by leadership at the SEC, the CFTC and FINRA.

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New Congress, New Priorities for Financial Services in 2019

Bates News, Bates Research  |  02-07-19

New Congress, New Priorities for Financial Services in 2019

The priorities of the congressional committees that oversee financial services are changing. The contours of that change are beginning to take shape as Democrats take control in the House of Representatives and leadership from both parties announce committee assignments. This article takes a look at the agendas of Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), the new Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chair of the Senate Banking Committee. Their dynamic will set the stage for potential political confrontation, possible bipartisan legislation, and certain administrative and regulatory oversight impacting the financial services industry.

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FINRA Highlights Online Platforms, Mark-Up Disclosure & Compliance, RegTech in 2019 Exam Priorities

Bates News, Bates Research  |  01-24-19

FINRA Highlights Online Platforms, Mark-Up Disclosure & Compliance, RegTech in 2019 Exam Priorities

In his latest annual priorities letter to members, FINRA Chief Executive Officer Robert Cook emphasized that FINRA will be monitoring firm developments “to identify risks and assess their prevalence and impact.” He noted that the 2019 letter highlights new areas of focus that will allow member firms to determine whether certain issues “are relevant to their businesses” and how they might be best addressed. In addition, Mr. Cook explicitly stated that these highlighted areas do not affect the ongoing monitoring and enforcement efforts detailed in previous priorities letters. In this article, Bates will review the highlights from FINRA’s newly released 2019 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter. We once again list and compare the new priorities to preceding years in the attached Bates’ 2019 FINRA Chart.

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FINRA Announces 2019 Regulatory and Examination Priorities

Bates News, Bates Research, Industry News  |  01-22-19

FINRA Announces 2019 Regulatory and Examination Priorities

FINRA has announced their regulatory and examination priorities letter for 2019.

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New FINRA Report Details Effective Practices for Broker-Dealer Cybersecurity Compliance

Bates News, Bates Research  |  01-17-19

New FINRA Report Details Effective Practices for Broker-Dealer Cybersecurity Compliance

Right before the new year, FINRA published a report on specific cybersecurity compliance concerns raised in recent broker-dealer examinations. The report provides important guidance for broker-dealers to ensure that their compliance programs adequately address particular risks. Specifically, FINRA highlights best practices among firms on (i) branch office controls; (ii) limiting phishing attacks; (iii) mitigating insider threats; (iv) testing compliance networks for security weakness; and (v) controlling risks related to mobile devices. In this article, Bates reviews these elements and what they may mean for your compliance program.

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OCIE to Prioritize Protection of Retail Investors in 2019 Examinations

Bates News, Bates Research  |  01-03-19

OCIE to Prioritize Protection of Retail Investors in 2019 Examinations

The SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations ("OCIE") will prioritize risks to retail investors in this year’s examinations. That concern is a distinguishing highlight of a new report summarizing OCIE assessments of regulatory issues, market risks and policy developments.

Additional featured priorities include continuing risks and concerns related to fee disclosures, share class, and wrap fee programs, anti-money laundering, cybersecurity, digital assets, FINRA and MSRB operations, and issues of compliance by registrants involved in critical market infrastructure. In this article, we review the new report, contrast this year’s priorities with those of the past few years in our annual Bates year-to-year SEC OCIE priorities chart, and consider some implications so that firms might better prepare and, if necessary, adjust their compliance systems accordingly.

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