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SEC Enforcement Priorities for 2021: SPACs, ESG Disclosures, Cybersecurity, COVID Disclosures, PPP Fraud

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will discuss SEC enforcement priorities for 2021, with a particular focus on special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, digital currencies, COVID-19 disclosures, and PPP fraud. The panel will also discuss how the appointment of Gary Gensler and other leadership changes under the new administration might affect SEC priorities going forward.


The appointment of Gary Gensler as SEC Chairman, and other changes within SEC leadership, may alter the enforcement landscape. Counsel should be prepared for heightened scrutiny of SPAC transactions, digital currency, cybersecurity and ESG disclosures, among other matters.

On Mar. 31, 2021, the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance issued guidance indicating an increased focus by the SEC on SPAC accounting practices. On Apr. 8, 2021, SEC signaled that it would apply the same level of scrutiny to de-SPAC-related disclosures as it would to traditional IPO disclosures.

With the creation of the Climate and ESG Task Force, the Biden SEC has indicated its intention to focus on ESG-related misconduct and disclosure of climate risks in public company filings. The SEC has already found instances in which investment firms were making potentially misleading statements regarding their ESG investment processes.

The rise of bitcoin and the proliferation of new digital currencies triggered several high-profile SEC enforcement actions. Cryptocurrency will receive significant SEC attention under Chairman Gensler, who taught courses at MIT on blockchain technology and digital currencies.

The COVID-19 era, like other periods of economic crisis, has led to the mass uncovering of misconduct. Since the pandemic shut down in 2020, the Enforcement Division opened over 150 Covid-19-related inquiries. The SEC will likely continue to look for and investigate such misconduct in 2021 and beyond.

Listen as our authoritative panel discusses the areas of potential rulemaking and enforcement actions by the SEC and other agencies under the Biden administration.



  1. New SEC leadership in the Biden administration: implications for securities enforcement
  2. Rulemaking and guidance
    1. Climate change and ESG
    2. SPACs
    3. Cybersecurity
  3. Enforcement priorities
    1. SPAC acquisitions to be treated as IPOs
    2. ESG disclosures
    3. Disclosures relating to COVID-19/PPP fraud cases
    4. Cryptocurrencies
    5. Other
  4. SEC, DOJ, and CFTC: areas of shared jurisdiction


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How have disclosures connected to recently de-SPAC transactions varied from traditional IPOs, and what changes are anticipated under the current administration?
  • What are the current disclosure obligations of public companies about ESG issues, and what are the potential requirements going forward?
  • How has the SEC's focus on cybersecurity changed after SolarWinds and recent ransomware attacks?
  • What types of COVID-related claims are being brought by federal enforcement agencies, and what are their respective roles?


Guillén, Teresa
Teresa Goody Guillén

Baker & Hostetler

Ms. Guillén has a broad-based securities and corporate practice that includes SEC investigations, securities...  |  Read More

Tanney, Michelle
Michelle N. Tanney

Baker & Hostetler

Ms. Tanney brings a wealth of knowledge to her securities enforcement and litigation practice. Her involvement in...  |  Read More

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