Keith Lewis

Lawyer, multimedia and print journalist

Published across a wide range of media including to international and national audiences through web articles, newspapers, and magazines. Work includes editorials, objective news reporting, non-partisan news coverage of legal and regulatory news out of Washington, profiles/bios, analysis, and even satire/humor.

BlackRock shows growing ESG role in assessing financial risk

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager and a leader among environmental, social and governance-oriented investors, wielded more influence than ever in the most recent corporate proxy season, including a lead role in the boardroom shakeup at Exxon Mobil Corp. The firm, which has about $9 trillion in invested assets, voted on more than 165,000 management and shareholder proposals across 70 or more markets during the 2021 proxy season, according to a report from its investment stewardship team. It won shareholder support on upward of a third of the 843 proposals it submitted at annual meetings, up from

ESG investors press companies for fairer labor polices

Labor-management relations are drawing the attention of environmental, social and governance investors, who are urging companies toward more transparency on topics such as executive-to-worker compensation ratios, racial and gender pay disparities, and the treatment of all workers. This mounting shareholder pressure for fairer workplace policies may soon converge with legislation passed by the House and pending in the Senate that would affirm labor rights, with some experts saying the outside pre

ESG movement origins trace back to financial crisis, Citizens United

The exponential growth of investment focused on environmental, social and governance factors that has unexpectedly aligned many progressive-backed policies with corporate agendas can be traced at least in part to a Supreme Court decision derided by Democrats: Citizens United, according to a legal scholar. The 2010 high court rulings in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. four years later recognized a corporation’s right to assert the political

Federal workers to gain access to ESG in retirement portfolios

Millions of federal workers will soon have the option to direct their retirement savings to funds that incorporate environmental, social and governance factors in their investment decisions. The Thrift Savings Plan, a $762 billion defined contribution plan akin to a 401(k) for most federal government workers, will become the latest and the largest retirement plan to offer participants ESG investment options. By next summer, the plan’s 6.3 million participants from federal civilian agencies and u

Fintech industry wants guidance as lawmakers focus on risks

Financial technology innovators are hoping there’s no such thing as bad press when it comes to cryptocurrencies. As Congress focuses on risks and volatility, the fintech industry is touting the technology’s benefits while urging lawmakers to clear the runways that will make it easier to launch products without fear of violating the law. “Congress is starting to pay more attention to crypto,” Linda Jeng, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and former Securities and Exchange C

Political spending proposals gain traction in proxy season

Shareholder proposals seeking to increase transparency on publicly traded companies’ political activities won in record numbers this proxy season. Investors gave strong support to measures asking corporate boards to disclose more about company campaign contributions and lobbying, with proposals earning resounding approval from shareholders at Netflix Inc., railway operator Norfolk Southern Corp., and GEO Group Inc., which runs immigration detention facilities. Each of those measures passed with

Democrats seek to expand ESG strategies in retirement plans

Investment strategies that consider environmental, social and governance factors may soon find their way into employer-sponsored retirement plans, expanding access to millions of Americans whose only stake in the market is through a 401(k) or similar account. Senate Democrats this month introduced legislation that would amend a 1974 law known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to allow fiduciaries to consider ESG factors in selecting investment strategies for employer-sponsored plans

Ripple case seen as precedent for cryptocurrency regulation

Cryptocurrency experts are closely watching a legal battle between Ripple Labs Inc. and the Securities and Exchange Commission, anticipating the case could establish precedent and clarify the regulatory landscape for digital coin offerings. The SEC last year sued the company, CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Executive Chairman Chris Larsen in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging they should have registered XRP under securities law. Ripple and its executives have aske

States diverge on crypto oversight as industry awaits clarity

New York added to its reputation for strict regulation of cryptocurrency platforms with an $18.5 million fine against the companies behind the stablecoin known as Tether and its related digital asset exchange. The state’s reputation on financial technology, which experts say may be inaccurately based on such enforcement actions, stands in contrast with other states, such as Wyoming and Colorado, that are enacting pro-crypto legislation and conducting outreach to attract investment. Lawyers who

Robinhood legal scrutiny seen as fintech opportunity

The frenzy driving the price of Gamestop Corp. shares up and down last month revealed weaknesses in the infrastructure of traditional U.S. capital markets that many in the financial industry say could be addressed with technology. Robinhood Markets Inc., which operates an app that allows small investors to buy and sell stocks with no fees, is facing scrutiny from Congress and regulators over its decision to block users from purchasing shares of GameStop, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and othe

Fintech works to elevate minority leaders as users diversify

Data is beginning to show that communities historically cut off from banking and investing are using financial technology to increase access. Now, industry leaders are calling for more diverse perspectives in top leadership roles to help drive that progress. Companies say they’re working on ways to make it happen. Change Machine, a New York-based nonprofit that helps social services professionals recommend fintech products to their underbanked clients, committed this year to a target that 40 p

Regulators warn about fraudsters creating synthetic borrowers

The financial technology industry that’s upending consumer finance could be the solution to a kind of identity fraud that’s dogging traditional banks and fintech companies alike. It’s called synthetic identity fraud, where instead of stealing one person’s information, criminals synthesize a false identity using information from many people — usually those unlikely to monitor their credit, like children, the elderly, prisoners or the homeless. Fraudsters then establish a credit history for the f

States OK blockchain ‘smart contracts’ but buy-in is uncertain

An Illinois law took effect last month that recognizes a new form of legal agreement known as a smart contract, a binding accord executed using blockchain technology, putting it on equal footing with traditional legal contracts. Illinois is the third state to officially endorse the concept, although it’s not clear that practical applications for the concept have developed as quickly as the underlying technology. Arizona and Tennessee passed similar legislation recognizing smart contracts, and s

Paycheck relief loans give fintech a chance to showcase strengths

The financial technology industry was handed a rare opportunity to demonstrate its capabilities when the federal government authorized nonbank companies like PayPal Holdings Inc. and Square Inc. to help distribute $349 billion in economic relief to small businesses reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Administration, which manages the so-called Paycheck Protection Program, approved the two financial institutions along with automated online lender Kabbage Inc. and Intuit Inc. s

Jaguar Health’s price hike questioned by Democrats

House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., sent a letter to Jaguar Health Inc. on Monday chiding the drugmaker for tripling the price of a medication that could be used with potential coronavirus treatments and demanding copies of the company’s internal communications about the increase. The drug, Mytesi, can be used to alleviate gastrointestinal side effects that can often accompany the use of antiviral medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guid
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