US DOJ Guidance Document : Corporate Compliance

On April 30, 2019, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) published a guidance document, “The Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” (Guidance), aiming to provide greater transparency into its prosecution decisions. While the Guidance is primarily meant for the consumption of prosecutors considering an investigation and/or bringing charges against a corporation, it provides valuable insight for compliance conscious entities that are proactively looking to develop and further strengthen their corporate compliance programme (CCP).

The Guidance complements the principles set out in the Justice Manual, which describes specific factors that prosecutors must take into consideration, including inter alia, the adequacy and effectiveness of the corporation’s compliance programme at the time of both the offence and the charging decision, and the corporation’s remedial efforts to implement an adequate and effective corporate compliance programme or to improve an existing one. Additionally, the US Sentencing Guidelines advise that consideration should be given to whether the corporation had in place at the time of the misconduct an effective compliance programme to calculate the appropriate criminal fine.
Continue Reading DOJ’s New Guidance Document: Is it Time to Re–evaluate your Corporate Compliance Programme?

Framework for OFAC Compliance Commitments

The past year has witnessed a massive increase in sanctions-related enforcement activity and has indeed caused a stir in the global sanctions landscape. Under the new administration, the US re-imposed all nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, culminating in the largest ever single set of sanctions designations to date.

With the heightened global regulatory environment and the aggressive stance of enforcement agencies, it has been made rather clear that sanctions laws can no longer be ignored. Moreover, in an attempt to bring clarity to compliance expectations of the sanctions regime in the US, on May 02, 2019, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published the Framework for OFAC Compliance Commitments (Framework). The Framework sets out OFAC’s key considerations for evaluating the efficacy of a sanctions compliance programme (SCP) and in turn determining whether mitigation of civil monetary penalties ought to be granted.
Continue Reading Are You Ready to Make a Commitment? A Glimpse into the Newly Introduced OFAC Compliance Commitments

Shares with Differential Voting Rights

The Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has recently circulated a consultation paper on Differential Voting Rights (DVRs). Issuance of shares with differential voting or dividend rights is not a novel concept for India. It has been around since 2000 and a few listed companies, like Tata Motors and Pantaloons, have issued shares with differential voting / dividend rights.

However, ever since, SEBI amended the Listing Regulations in 2009, to state that listed companies are not permitted to issue shares with ‘superior rights’, there have hardly been any takers for this instrument. SEBI’s current proposal appears to be an attempt to breathe some life into such instruments by providing more flexibility in structuring the terms of such issuances, albeit with some checks and balances.  
Continue Reading Shares with Differential Voting Rights – SEBI’s Sequel Trumps the Original

data protection indian insurance regulations

In the first part of this two part series we discussed about the regulatory frameworks governing insurance companies and insurance intermediaries. In this part we will look at the guidelines applicable to both insurance companies and insurance intermediaries which includes cyber security and ecommerce guidelines.

Guidelines Applicable to Both Insurance Companies as well as Insurance Intermediaries

In addition to the previously-mentioned regulations, the IRDAI has also issued certain guidelines pertaining to data security and protection that are applicable to both insurance companies as well as insurance intermediaries. These are the Guidelines on Information and Cyber Security for Insurers[i] (Cyber Security Guidelines) and the Guidelines on Insurance E-Commerce[ii] (E-commerce Guidelines) and have been discussed below.
Continue Reading Data Protection in the Indian Insurance Sector – Regulatory Framework Part II

 Data Protection in the Indian Insurance Sector – Regulatory Framework Part I

A shift towards digitisation has been the central theme for the insurance industry in recent years. Digitisation lowers the cost of transacting business, helps increase penetration, and brings higher efficiencies. However, the convenience of digitisation brings with it concerns related to data protection.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) and the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011 (SPDI Rules) set out the general framework with respect to data protection in India. However, given the nature of the business of insurance companies and intermediaries, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has prescribed an additional framework for the protection of policyholder information and data, which is required to be followed in addition to the general framework under the IT Act.
Continue Reading Data Protection in the Indian Insurance Sector – Regulatory Framework Part I

Race to Space - Space Activities Bill, 2017 - commercialization of space

Spearheaded by the Department of Space and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India has developed low cost indigenous space capabilities for peaceful purposes over five decades. The proposed Space Activities Bill, 2017 (Bill), seeks to dismantle the Government monopoly on space and encourage private sector involvement. Will it lead to advancement of the space programme?

Globally, the space sector is no longer the preserve of Governments, as entry barriers to private players are being lifted[1]. The need for technological advancement, cost reduction and emerging opportunities such as mineral exploration of planets, are some of the reasons for encouraging the private sector. ISRO began commercialising certain space activities by opting for a public-private partnership model[2]. It has since seen many start-ups, but has yet to translate into a wider role for the private sector.  
Continue Reading Race for Space

Schemes and the Amendment to the Takeover Regulations

Schemes of arrangement have been a favoured route for corporates to acquire shares of listed companies, given the many obvious pros of acquisitions undertaken through a court/ National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) based scheme of arrangement. Schemes have also been used to undertake group level restructurings, a consequence of which could be the indirect transfer of shares of a listed company from one group company to another.

One of the biggest advantages of acquiring shares in, and/or control over, a listed company pursuant to a scheme of arrangement is that such an acquisition is exempt from the requirements of making a mandatory open offer under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations), subject to certain conditions being met.
Continue Reading Schemes and the Amendment to the Takeover Regulations: A Step Backwards?

Private Equity Blog - Control Deals Acquisition

Private equity (PE) investors have traditionally invested in the Indian marketplace as ‘financial investors’, acquiring a minority stake in their target with negotiated contractual rights to oversee their financial investments.

The past few years have borne witness to the trend of acquiring “controlling stakes” in the target. Data gathered from public sources suggest that the total value of control deals in India went up from USD 4.8 billion in 2017 to USD 5.9 billion in 2018.
Continue Reading Is Private Equity the New ‘Strategic’? Control Acquisitions are Here to Stay!

stamp Act amendments 2019

The key amendments that the Finance Act, 2019 proposes to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 have been examined in Decoding the Amendment to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 for Debentures – Part I. The impact of the amendments on debentures have also been analysed against the prevailing stamping arrangement for debentures.

This second part deals with the interplay between the definitions of ‘debentures’ and ‘securities’ under the Amendment, and issues relating to the implementation of the Centralised Collection Mechanism (CCM).
Continue Reading Decoding the Amendments to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, for Debentures – Part II

Amendments to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 for Debentures

The Finance Act, 2019[1] (Amendment) proposes to make some significant amendments to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 (Act). The primary objective of the Amendment is to set up a zero-evasion centralised collection mechanism under which stamp duty is collected through one agency, at one place and on one instrument for securities market transactions.

It also seeks to standardise the stamp duty payable on issuance, sale and transfer of securities market instruments. It does so by removing multiple instances of stamp duty, waiving stamp duty on certain instruments, and removing the ability of the State Governments to determine rates or levy stamp duty in addition to the Act[2].
Continue Reading Decoding the Amendments to Indian Stamp Act, 1899, for Debentures – Part I