Attorney General James Makes Government Services More Accessible in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

New Procedural Changes Announced for Securities,
and Real Estate Registrants and Filers

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a number of steps her office is taking to make state government services more accessible to New Yorkers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health crisis. In an effort to address disruptions happening across New York and specifically in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), Attorney General James issued guidance that will limit the need to mail many physical submissions to her office.

“The spread of the coronavirus means remote work is the new norm and with that our practices must rapidly adapt to keep both the public and workers safe,” said Attorney General James. “In an effort to limit the need for New Yorkers to visit the post office, we are halting most requirements for the physical mailing of filings to our office. We are now accepting many electronic submissions or are delaying filings until this crisis has passed. These temporary changes will ensure the health of New Yorkers are not further at risk during these trying times, while simultaneously allowing my office to continue its vital work protecting New York investors and purchasers.”

For entities regulated by the OAG’s Investor Protection Bureau, the OAG is granting limited, temporary relief from certain filing requirements under the Martin Act, General Business Law (GBL) Article 23-A, the Franchise Sales Act, and GBL Article 33. In particular, new OAG guidance extends the filing date by 90 days for any registration renewal, amendment, financial statement, or Investment Adviser Qualification (NY-IAQ) filing that would have been due between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020. Additionally, the OAG is directing certain securities and franchise filers to utilize email in addition to any physical submissions.

For entities regulated by the OAG’s Real Estate Finance Bureau, the OAG is granting limited, temporary relief from certain submission and filing requirements under the Martin Act, the REF’s regulations, and the REF’s guidance documents. The OAG’s guidance creates a “relief period,” during which the need for numerous submissions and filings to the REF will be suspended. For example, the OAG will not require sponsors to submit certain amendments to offering plans to the REF during the relief period, as long as such amendments do not include material and adverse changes. The REF is also increasing its capacity for electronic processing of submissions, and can now accept most submissions for filing via email rather than in paper format.

The OAG will continue to explore additional steps that can be taken to facilitate electronic filings and payments. In the meantime, the OAG does not intend to pursue certain enforcement actions based solely upon the failure to submit certain registrations and filings during this crisis, as is detailed more specifically in the Real Estate Finance Bureau’s guidance.

Since the spread of the coronavirus became more prevalent in New York, Attorney General James has made a number of changes in the OAG to simplify New Yorkers’ experiences working with the state, as well as ease their financial burdens. Last week, Attorney General James temporarily halted the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG for collection, for at least a 30-day period, in response to growing financial impairments resulting from the spread of COVID-19. After this 30-day period, the OAG will reassess the needs of state residents for a possible extension. Additionally, the OAG will accept applications for suspension of all other types of debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG for collection.