Latham & Watkins Discusses ESG Considerations for Cryptocurrency

The huge rise in popularity of Bitcoin — and the growing interest by mainstream financial institutions in virtual assets as an investable and tradable asset class — has shone a light on the cryptocurrency industry’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.

The vast majority of the world’s financial institutions manage climate risk and other ESG risks in their own portfolios. As a result, many financial institutions perform related diligence on corporates they look to service, whether by traditional lending, capital markets underwriting, or direct investment. While the focus has primarily been on the ESG performance of cryptocurrency miners (given their … Read more

Latham & Watkins Discusses New CFTC Climate Risk Unit

On March 17, 2021, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced the establishment of an interdivisional Climate Risk Unit (CRU) to assess the risks to US financial stability posed by climate change. The CRU aims to be a catalyst for change by highlighting the derivatives markets’ role in understanding, pricing, and addressing climate-related risks, as well as its role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The announcement was made by Acting Chairman Rostin Behnam, whose efforts to steer the CFTC’s focus toward climate-related impacts on the financial system led to the publication of a landmark report by the CFTC’s … Read more

Latham & Watkins Discusses Digital Asset Regulations of 2020

Last year, Latham & Watkins sounded a hopeful note that 2020 would provide a clearer vision than 2019 for the regulation of digital assets in the US. In the wake of the emergence of COVID-19, priorities changed, along with forecasts and expectations. The second and third quarters of 2020 had regulators of all stripes in triage mode, and any attention they may have directed at cryptoassets was understandably shelved. On the other hand, far from sidelining digital asset growth, the pandemic appears to have spurred further innovation and adoption. Regulators are now continuing to reckon with an asset class that … Read more

Latham & Watkins Discusses CFTC No-Action Relief on IBOR Transition

On August 31, 2020, three divisions of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued revised no-action letters providing additional relief to swap dealers (SDs), end users, and other market participants from registration requirements; business conduct standards; uncleared swap margin requirements; mandatory clearing; and trade execution requirements as a result of the looming discontinuation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and other interbank offered rates (IBORs) and the transition to risk-free rates (RFRs). The relief came at the request of the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC), the group of private-market participants convened by the Federal Reserve Board and the … Read more

Latham & Watkins discusses CFTC’s Enforcement Action Against Online Cryptocurrency Exchange

A recent enforcement action reflects the CFTC’s expanded jurisdiction and provides further clarity on what constitutes “actual delivery” in cryptocurrency trading.

On June 2, 2016, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued an order (the Bitfinex Order) filing, and simultaneously settling, charges against Hong Kong-based BFXNA, Inc., d/b/a Bitfinex (Bitfinex), in connection with Bitfinex’s operation of an online cryptocurrency trading platform (the Platform).[1] Specifically, the Bitfinex Order finds that Bitfinex facilitated the execution of illegal, off-exchange commodity transactions in violation of the Commodity Exchange Act (the CEA) by (i) permitting retail and non-retail users to engage in financed … Read more