The outbreak of COVID-19 triggered various response measures across the globe. Among other measures, the Austrian legislature, similar to other European countries, has implemented a moratorium on payments of credit obligations to support operational and liquidity challenges faced by borrowers due to the pandemic. Contrary to, for example, Germany, the Austrian legislature has included, in addition to consumers, micro-enterprises in the scope of the moratorium.
A significant part of Austria's COVID-19 subsidy programme was structured as government guarantees for bridging loans to be granted by banks to provide the economy with liquidity. Now, less than three months after the start of the programme, small and medium-sized enterprises regard this approach as disastrous, with many complaining that the granting of loans has been slow and cumbersome, despite the state guarantee, if a loan has been granted at all.
An insolvency proceeding was recently opened for the assets of Anglo Austrian AAB AG. This was the last step in a long-lasting dispute between the bank and Austrian and EU regulators, leading to the revocation of the bank's licence. This case is notable because it is the first application of the newly enacted deposit guarantee scheme and was expected to be the first application of the insolvency provisions under the Federal Act on the Recovery and Resolution of Banks.
Considering the obvious conflict with European Court of Justice case law, the Austrian legislature's aim to fully implement the EU Consumer Credit Directive and the Austrian Consumer Credit Act's intended (but directive-breaching) effects consumers, legal advisers and the courts are now confronted with the delicate question of how consumer requests for repayment should be dealt with.
The Federal Administrative Court recently confirmed that a credit institution had violated its obligations under the EU Data Protection Regulation by refusing to provide its customer access to information – at no cost – on specific payment transactions effected in the previous five years. Consumer protection organisations and the Austrian press celebrated the decision, but on closer inspection, those cheers seem to have been uttered a little too early and the celebrants' expectations appear to have been a little too high.
The current government was elected in 2017, having undertaken to create new economic pillars in Bermuda, identify new opportunities for economic diversification and seek local and overseas investment to develop new local industry and thereby create jobs in Bermuda. Since its election, the government has enthusiastically embraced the fintech sector and the potential that it offers and has repeatedly expressed its intention for Bermuda to be a significant centre for this industry.
A recently issued presidential decree has authorised the Central Bank of Brazil to recognise the government's interest in establishing branches of foreign financial institutions in Brazil and increasing foreign equity participation in Brazilian financial institutions without the need for further presidential authorisation. Prior to the decree's enactment, these matters required the express approval of international treaties or presidential decrees recognising that investments were in the government's interest.
The Monetary Authority (Administrative Fines) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 recently came into force, extending the administrative fines regime beyond breaches of the Anti-money Laundering Regulations to a much broader spectrum of breaches under various Cayman regulatory laws. Of particular interest to Cayman bank licensees will be how breaches of the Banks and Trust Companies Law will be treated under the regulations.
The Cayman Islands recently introduced a new framework for regulating virtual asset businesses: the Virtual Assets (Service Providers) Law 2020. The law derives from recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force and provides for the regulation of virtual asset businesses and the registration and licensing of persons which provide virtual asset services. In addition, the government has amended a number of existing laws to extend to virtual assets.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a number of operational and administrative challenges across the global legal and economic landscape. This article summarises some of the latest developments and the key issues relevant to financial institutions with legal and regulatory links to the Cayman Islands, including the validity and enforceability of electronic signatures and the Cayman Islands advisory on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism compliance.
To help Cayman hedge funds navigate the myriad issues brought about by COVID-19, this article offers a high-level checklist for fund directors and investment managers to consider. The checklist covers operational issues, issues around liquidity and possible termination and communication and reporting considerations. Each of these topics is considered in turn in relation to a typical standalone corporate open-ended Cayman fund. That said, most of the checks can be applied using a variety of Cayman vehicles.
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange recently found 600 websites guilty of illegally providing foreign exchange (FX) margin trading services. The high yields associated with such high-risk investments have led many countries to introduce strict regulations. In China, the financial regulatory authorities have clarified that no legal institutions can conduct FX margin trading business and that those who break the law in order to engage in such business may incur administrative or criminal penalties.