Governance & Compliance Insider

SEC Withdraws No Action Letters on Proxy Advisory Firms

Cam C. Hoang

In order to facilitate discussion on the role of proxy advisory firms at the upcoming Roundtable on the Proxy Process, which is scheduled for November 2018, the SEC staff has determined to withdraw two no action letters that provided comfort to investment advisers in relying on proxy advisory firm recommendations: In Egan-Jones Proxy Services (May 27, 2004), the staff had confirmed that by voting based on the...

Marijuana Investments and Fraud Featured in SEC Investor Alert

David Marx

The marijuana industry is attracting considerable interest from investors, and unfortunately, scam artists trying to take advantage of those investors. In response to these concerns, on September 5, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and Retail Strategy Task Force issued an alert to investors warning them about investment schemes involving marijuana-related companies. According to the release, the OIEA...

New SEC Rules Eliminates Duplicative, Overlapping, Outdated Disclosure Requirements

Cam C. Hoang

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced last Friday that it has adopted amendments to certain disclosure requirements that have become duplicative, overlapping, or outdated in light of other Commission disclosure requirements, US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), or changes in the information environment.   These amendments were originally proposed in 2016, in order to implement provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.  ...

SEC Issues $1.75 Million Penalty Over Perks Disclosures

Cam C. Hoang

A recent SEC consent order against The Dow Chemical Company reminds companies that when evaluating whether or not to disclose a payment or benefit to an executive as a perk in a proxy statement, the fact that the item has a tangential business purpose, or is convenient for the company, is insufficient grounds to exclude the item as a perk.  In order to be excluded as...

SEC Approves Series of Final and Proposed Rules in Line with Stated Priorities

Cam C. Hoang

The SEC held a very busy open meeting yesterday, voting on the following final and proposed rules: Adoption of amendments to modernize the definition of “smaller reporting company,” which was established in 2008.  See our previous discussion of the amendments.   Adoption of amendments to require the use of the Inline XBRL format in certain filings, which were proposed in 2017 and have been under...

SEC Expands on “Smaller Reporting Companies” Eligible for Scaled Disclosure

Cam C. Hoang

The SEC announced that it has voted to amend the definition of “smaller reporting company,” or “SRC,” expanding the population of companies that qualify for a range of scaled (reduced) disclosure requirements. The rules will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Examples of scaled disclosure include that SRCs, in their annual reports on Form 10-K, are not obligated to include risk...

SEC Guidance on Cybersecurity Disclosure and Policies – Recap of Dorsey Webinar Presentation

Gary L. Tygesson

Earlier this week, Dorsey hosted a webinar panel presentation on the SEC’s recent guidance on cybersecurity disclosures and policies. The webinar provided a detailed walk-through of the SEC’s guidance, including issues related to enhanced disclosure, insider trading, and Reg FD policies. The panel also discussed the impact of the SEC’s guidance within the changing landscape of cybersecurity and current developments in shareholder litigation, SEC enforcement actions,...

Ninth Circuit Rejects Decisions of Five Other Circuits: Exchange Act Section 14(e) Does Not Require Scienter

Thomas O. Gorman

Scienter has been a critical element of a claim based on Exchange Act Section 10(b) in an SEC enforcement action since the Supreme Court’s decision in Aaron v. SEC, 446 U.S. 680 (1980). It has also been a key element in private damage actions based on the cause of action implied under Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 since Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 U.S....

Recent Developments in Auditor Tenure and Independence

Nicole H. Strydom

Last month, over 35% of General Electric Co.’s shareholders voted against ratification of KPMG LLC as GE’s auditor. This high level of opposition (for some context, last year’s votes against KPMG were at a mere 5.7%) comes in the wake of GE’s recent accounting issues and criticism from proxy-advisory firms. More specifically, the SEC is currently investigating some of GE’s accounting practices, including its need...

Failure to Disclose Leads to $35 Million Penalty in the Yahoo! Cybersecurity Breach

Cam C. Hoang

The Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced Tuesday that Altaba, the entity formerly known as Yahoo! Inc., has agreed to pay a $35 million penalty to settle charges that it misled investors by failing to disclose one of the world’s largest data breaches in which hackers stole personal data relating to hundreds of millions of user accounts. According to the SEC’s order, within days...