California Conforms To Federal Income Tax Treatment Of PPP Loan Forgiveness

As reported in our earlier blog post The CARES ACT – Tax Relief, the federal CARES Act provides for forgiveness of indebtedness for eligible recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans in an amount equal to the sum of the recipient’s payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent obligations and utility payments (subject to certain conditions and limitations).  Under federal law, any amount of covered loans forgiven under the CARES Act is excluded from gross income for federal income tax purposes. Continue Reading

Tell Me More – Antitrust Agencies to Demand More Information from Investment Funds

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the premerger notification rules (the “Rules”) that implement the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the “HSR Act”) to change the definition of “person” and create a new exemption.  The new definition of person is specifically designed to obtain more information from certain investment entities, such as investment funds and master limited partnerships, by including “associates” in the definition. Continue Reading

The October 2, 2020 SBA Procedural Notice: Change of Ownership Transactions Involving PPP Borrowers

On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released a Procedural Notice providing guidance addressed to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lenders and SBA employees as to the circumstances under which prior SBA approval is required before a borrower of a PPP loan undergoes a change of ownership.[1]  In particular, the October 2, 2020 Procedural Notice includes instructions to PPP lenders on how they may address equity or asset M&A transactions, ownership restructurings, or transfers of ownership interests involving their PPP borrowers.  Importantly, the October 2, 2020 Procedural Notice does not clearly address the circumstance of a change of ownership of a PPP borrower resulting from the issuance of additional ownership interests in the PPP borrower.[2] Continue Reading

Despite Challenges, It’s Full Steam Ahead For SEC’s Enforcement Division

On September 17, 2020, Stephanie Avakian, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, spoke at the Institute for Law and Economics, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Virtual Program.  Ms. Avakian used her time to highlight the Division’s enforcement priorities, operations, and challenges in the years since Jay Clayton became the director of the SEC in May 2017. Continue Reading

CFTC Throws its Hat into the Corporate Compliance Arena

On September 10, 2020, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued the latest in a series of circulars regarding corporate compliance released this summer by government agencies. In June, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued updated guidance regarding its evaluation of corporate compliance programs (see our prior blog here). In July, DOJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) jointly issued an updated Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which includes a 12-part section covering the “hallmarks” of effective corporate compliance programs. The instant CFTC guidance is the first issued by CFTC on this topic. The guidance signals to commodities market participants that compliance programs that do not meet guideline standards are fair game for CFTC examination and enforcement staff. Continue Reading

Delaware Court of Chancery Clarifies that Management Cannot Unilaterally Curtail a Director’s Access to Corporation’s Privileged Information

In In re WeWork Litigation, 2020 Del. Ch. LEXIS 270 (Del. Ch. Aug. 21, 2020) (Bouchard, C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery considered an issue of first impression:  Does the management of a Delaware corporation have the unilateral authority to preclude a director from obtaining the corporation’s privileged information?  The Court held it cannot.  The directors of Delaware corporations are entitled to share in legal advice the corporation receives and, subject to limited exceptions not at issue in WeWork, cannot be prevented from accessing the corporation’s privileged information. Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Section 14(a) Complaint For Failure to Plead Facts Demonstrating Alleged Omissions from Proxy Statement Were Misleading

In Heinze v. Tesco Corp., No. 19-20298, 2020 WL 4814094 (5th Cir. Aug. 19, 2020), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action suit under Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), 15 U.S.C. § 78(b) alleging that defendant Tesco Corporation (“Tesco”), former members of Tesco’s board of directors and Nabors Industries, Ltd. (“Nabors”) omitted material information from a proxy statement issued in connection with Nabors’ acquisition of Tesco in 2017.  Applying the heightened pleading standard of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4, et seq., the Court held that plaintiffs failed to show how the omitted facts were necessary to make the statements therein not false or misleading.  Heinze marks a significant victory for companies facing Section 14(a) shareholder litigation over merger-related proxy statements, reaffirming the PSLRA’s specificity requirements as well as its safe harbor provision shielding companies from liability over certain forward-looking statements and projections. Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Reverses SEC Disgorgement Award and Remands in First Decision Post-Liu

For the first time outside of the originating case itself, a federal appeals court was called upon to apply the principles governing disgorgement in SEC enforcement actions established by the United States Supreme Court’s high-profile decision in Liu v. Securities & Exchange Comm’n, No. 18-1501, 2020 WL 3405845 (U.S. June 22, 2020) (blog article here).  In Securities & Exchange Comm’n v. Yang, No. 19-55289, 2020 WL 4530630 (9th Cir. Aug. 6, 2020), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reviewed a district court order, issued some eighteen months before the Supreme Court spoke in Liu, awarding the SEC disgorgement.  In an unpublished memorandum decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the disgorgement awards and remanded the case to the district court to explicitly determine whether the awards comported with the requirements for such relief under Liu.  The Yang decision drew attention because it served as an example of how the high court’s decision is impacting appellate review of disgorgement awards.  If Yang is any indication, courts of appeal will be remanding cases to district courts with instruction to reach specific findings regarding compliance with Liu’s disgorgement requirements. Continue Reading

Delaware Court of Chancery Applies the Internal Affairs Doctrine to Deny Stockholder Inspection Rights Under a Foreign State’s Law

In Juul Labs, Inc. v. Grove, 2020 Del. Ch. LEXIS 264 (Del. Ch. Aug. 13, 2020) (Laster, V.C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that the “internal affairs doctrine” bars a stockholder of a Delaware corporation headquartered in a foreign jurisdiction from seeking to inspect corporate books and records pursuant to the statutory law of that foreign jurisdiction.  The stockholder is limited instead to the inspection rights and remedies under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, 8 Del. C. § 220.  This decision has the potential to provide greater certainty to Delaware corporations headquartered in other states that Delaware law will govern all aspects of stockholders’ rights, although it remains to be seen whether the courts of those other states will enforce Delaware law in a similarly limiting fashion. Continue Reading

FINRA Settlement Highlights Importance of Anti-Money Laundering Due Diligence and Monitoring

A recent enforcement action offers a glimpse of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (“FINRA”) expectations for firms conducting anti-money laundering (“AML”) due diligence and transaction monitoring.  On July 27, 2020, FINRA settled with broker-dealer JKR & Company (“JKR”) over allegations that the firm failed to detect, investigate, and report suspicious activity in four customer accounts in violation of FINRA Rules 3310(a) and 2010.  JKR agreed to a $50,000 fine and a censure to resolve the matter.  The settlement is notable in that FINRA applied transaction monitoring and due diligence expectations common in the banking industry to a broker-dealer.  It also serves as a reminder that FINRA expects member firms to not only establish written AML policies and procedures, but also to put their AML programs into practice in order to meet their regulatory obligations. Continue Reading

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