Corporate Defense and Disputes

Important developments in U.S. securities law, white collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement and other emerging issues impacting financial services institutions, publicly traded companies and private investment funds

Category Archives: SEC Enforcement

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Senate Considers Potential Changes to ECPA to Ease Access to Electronic Data Across Borders

Terrorist attacks, most recently in London and Manchester, England, have raised the pressure on law enforcement and lawmakers in countries like the U.K. and the U.S., to proactively intercept and interrupt terrorist communications. On May 24, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism addressed practical issues regarding warrants for overseas data … Continue Reading

SEC Continues to Use Advanced Data Analytics to Investigate Insider Trading

The SEC has continued to pursue a number of insider trading cases this year, both large-scale and small. Some of those matters involved trades that yielded relatively small amounts of profits: $40,000-$60,000. Why does the enforcement division spend resources on these smaller cases? First, they serve as a reminder that violations can be identified, even … Continue Reading

We Know What You Really Meant: Utah Court Holds that SEC Can Bring Extraterritorial Enforcement Action Based on Conduct or Effects in United States

A federal court in Utah recently held that the Securities and Exchange Commission may bring an enforcement action based on allegedly foreign securities transactions involving non-U.S. residents if sufficient conduct occurred in the United States.… Continue Reading

Non-Use Agreement Need Not Precede Disclosure of Confidential Information

A Pennsylvania federal court held yesterday that an agreement not to use confidential inside information for trading purposes need not precede the receipt of that information in order to create liability under the misappropriation theory of insider trading. The ruling in SEC v. Cooperman (E.D. Pa.) appears to be the first decision to address the “novel … Continue Reading

Watch the Napkin: First Circuit Affirms Insider-Trading Conviction

In what appears to be the first appellate decision since the Supreme Court’s December 2016 ruling in Salman v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed an insider-trading conviction based on a tip of material, nonpublic information. The February 24, 2017 decision in United States v. Bray held that the jury had … Continue Reading

Race to Courthouse in Shareholder Derivative Actions Could Raise Due-Process Issues

The Delaware Supreme Court requested further consideration of the federal due-process issues that might arise where a court is asked to hold that a shareholder derivative action is precluded because a prior derivative action was dismissed based on the first plaintiff’s failure to make a demand on the company’s board before filing suit. The Court’s … Continue Reading

New York Court Upholds Insider-Trading Verdict

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff denied motions for judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial after a jury found the defendants civilly liable for insider trading. The decision in SEC v. Payton (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2016) held that the jury had sufficient evidence to conclude that the initial tipper of inside information had … Continue Reading

SEC and DOJ Charge Board Member with Trading on Inside Information . . . During a Board Meeting

On Friday, the SEC filed a complaint against James C. Cope, a former member of the Executive Committee of Pinnacle Financial Partners’ (“PFP”) board of directors, alleging that he engaged in insider trading.  The same day, Cope pleaded guilty to related insider trading charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of … Continue Reading

Proskauer Attorneys Pen Cover Article for New York Law Journal’s White-Collar Crime Special Report

Proskauer partner Joshua M. Newville and associate Lindsey A. Olson recently wrote the lead article for New York Law Journal’s White-Collar Crime special report. In the article, they discuss how proposed amendments to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 could affect financial fraud investigations by the SEC and DOJ.  For more information, please read … Continue Reading

SEC Sues Company and its GC/CCO for Failure to Disclose and Accrue Charge for a Pending DOJ Investigation

On September 9, 2016, the SEC filed a complaint against RPM International Inc. (“RPM”) and the company’s General Counsel/CCO. The SEC claims the company filed false and misleading SEC filings that failed to disclose any loss contingency relating to a DOJ investigation that the company eventually settled for $60.9 million.  The complaint also charged the … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds That SOX Disgorgement of Incentive Compensation Does Not Depend on Executives’ Own Misconduct

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held today that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s disgorgement provision – which requires disgorgement of certain CEO and CFO compensation when an issuer restates its financial statements “as a result of misconduct” – applies even if the CEO and CFO were not personally involved in the misconduct. Although … Continue Reading

SEC Overrules Its Own Administrative Law Judge to Clear Customer of Fraud Charges

In a rare reversal of its own administrative law judge in the Matter of optionsXpress, the full Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously held that the SEC’s Enforcement Division had not met its burden of proof that the customer of a broker-dealer had committed securities fraud in connection with his clearing broker-dealer’s failure to deliver stock … Continue Reading

Joshua Newville Discusses Amendments to Rules Governing SEC Administrative Proceedings with Compliance Week

Last month, the SEC announced that it had adopted amendments updating the rules of practice governing its in-house administrative proceedings.  On August 9, 2016, Compliance Week published an article on the recently-adopted amendments, entitled, SEC modifies administrative proceedings, but did it go far enough? The article features insights from Proskauer partner Joshua Newville, who discusses … Continue Reading

SEC Adopts Amendments to Rules Governing Its Administrative Proceedings

Earlier today, the SEC announced that it will adopt certain amendments to its rules of practice governing administrative proceedings. Faced with criticism from practitioners and the media regarding a perceived “home field advantage” in administrative proceedings, as well as various constitutional challenges to the ALJ process, the SEC has now approved amendments “intended to update … Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Rules Disgorgement No Different Than Forfeiture, Barring SEC From Seeking Ill-Gotten Gains Outside Five-Year Limitations Period

A three judge panel in the Eleventh Circuit issued a ruling last Thursday in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Barry Graham et al., Case No. 14-13562, holding—contrary to several other circuits—that the remedy of disgorgement was effectively a forfeiture, and therefore subject to the standard five-year statute of limitations.  The SEC brought this case in … Continue Reading

Key Takeaways from SEC/DOJ Enforcement Panel

Last week, representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) participated in Sandpiper Partners LLC’s Annual SEC/DOJ Enforcement 2016 Panel at the Metropolitan Club. Participants included: Stephanie Avakian (Deputy Director, Division of Enforcement, SEC), Nicole Friedlander (Chief, Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District … Continue Reading

SEC Increases Focus on Private Equity Enforcement

Yesterday, SEC Director of Enforcement Andrew Ceresney gave a keynote address on Private Equity Enforcement.  In his remarks, Ceresney reiterated the SEC’s view that private equity is and will be a key enforcement area, and detailed recent actions showing the Commission’s particular focus on undisclosed fees and expenses and on increasing transparency in the industry.  … Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Considers Challenge to SEC Administrative Proceedings

Last week, in the consolidated cases of Charles Hill, Jr. v. SEC (No. 15-12831) and Gray Financial Group, Inc. v. SEC (No. 15-13738), the U.S. Court of Appeals for Eleventh Circuit heard oral argument on the question of whether federal district courts have jurisdiction to review constitutional challenges to SEC administrative enforcement proceedings. The Eleventh … Continue Reading

Regulatory And Litigation Hot Topics For Private Funds In 2016

Private investment funds are likely to face increased regulatory scrutiny and litigation risk in 2016, not only based on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s focus on the industry but also due to transparency and compliance initiatives of limited partners and other market developments. We have highlighted several areas that should be on the top of … Continue Reading

Top 10 Whistleblowing And Retaliation Events Of 2015

In 2015, we saw high-profile whistleblower litigation around the country under a variety of statutes (such as SOX and Dodd-Frank) that yielded decisions expanding the scope of protected activity and even limiting defenses to causation. We also saw significant activity from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Whistleblower that caused employers to revisit … Continue Reading

SEC Once Again Sanctions The CCO of An Investment Advisory Firm

On November 19, 2015, the SEC announced a settlement with investment advisory firm Sands Brothers Asset Management, LLC for violating the Custody Rule, SEC Rule 206(4)-2, which requires that registered investment advisers who have custody of their clients’ assets put in place policies and procedures intended to safeguard those assets against loss, misuse or misappropriation. … Continue Reading

SEC Proposes Rules To Enhance Transparency And Oversight Of Alternative Trading Systems

The SEC announced this week its proposal to substantially overhaul the rules regarding alternative trading systems (“ATS”), often referred to as dark pools. The proposed rules would require firms operating ATSs to make additional disclosure about business activities that may present conflicts of interest between firms and ATS subscribers, and considerable information as to how … Continue Reading
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