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: White Collar

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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

Supreme Court Reaffirms Personal-Benefit Requirement for Insider Trading

The Supreme Court confirmed today that the “personal benefit” required to establish a claim for insider trading can consist of making a gift of material, nonpublic information to a family member or friend and that an exchange of “something of a pecuniary or similarly valuable nature” is not required. The decision in Salman v. United … 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

Supreme Court Hears Argument on Meaning of “Personal Benefit” in Insider Trading

All eyes were on the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday as it heard arguments in Salman v. United States (No. 15-628) concerning the “personal benefit” required to establish a claim for insider trading. After an hour punctuated by the Justices’ constant questioning of attorneys for both the defendant and the government, it appears unlikely that the Supreme Court … Continue Reading

DOJ Moves to Dismiss Public Corruption Charges Against Former VA Governor

Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia moved to dismiss public corruption charges against former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, and his wife, Maureen McDonnell. The decision comes after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously vacated the former Governor’s corruption conviction earlier this summer.  McDonnell v. United States, 579 U. S. ____ … 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

In Conflict With Other Circuits, Seventh Circuit Rules That Certain Transfers Involving Financial Institution Intermediaries Not Immune From Recovery By Bankruptcy Trustee

Section 546(e) of the bankruptcy code prohibits a bankruptcy trustee from avoiding “settlement payment[s]”, or payments “made in connection with a securities contract,” that are “made by or to (or for the benefit of)” qualifying financial entities, including financial institutions, stockbrokers, commodities brokers and others.   In a ruling that conflicts with precedent from the Second, … Continue Reading

First Circuit Affirms Another Insider-Trading Conviction

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit yesterday affirmed another conviction in a pair of appeals arising from insider-trading prosecutions.  The decision in United States v. McPhail confirms that, under current First Circuit precedent, a tipper of inside information can receive “personal benefits” based on expectations of a free dinner, wine, and a massage … 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

Wine, Steak, and Massage Parlors Are Personal Benefits for Insider Trading

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held yesterday that friends’ gifts of wine, steak dinners, and other luxury items can constitute the types of personal benefit needed to establish a breach of duty in connection with a prosecution for insider trading. The court’s May 26, 2016 decision in United States v. Parigian also … 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

Supreme Court Clarifies Jurisdiction Under Securities Exchange Act

On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the provision of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 granting federal district courts exclusive jurisdiction over suits brought to enforce the Exchange Act is subject to the same jurisdictional test established by the general federal-question jurisdictional statute. The Court held in Merrill Lynch v. Manning … Continue Reading

10 Takeaways from Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates’ Remarks at the 2016 New York City Bar Association White Collar Crime Conference

This week, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates delivered remarks at the New York City Bar Association reflecting on the eight months since the release of the “Yates Memo,” or as Deputy AG Yates prefers, the “Individual Accountability Policy” (“the Policy”).  The Policy’s release in September 2015 followed prolonged criticism over a perceived lack of … Continue Reading

N.Y. Court of Appeals Adopts Business Judgment Rule, with Conditions, for Going-Private Mergers

The New York Court of Appeals has followed Delaware in holding that the business-judgment rule applies to going-private mergers as long as certain shareholder-protective measures are met. The court’s May 5, 2016 decision in In the Matter of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. Shareholder Litigation, Case No. 54, adopts the standard set forth by the Delaware Supreme … Continue Reading

Supreme Court To Resolve Circuit Split Over Bank Fraud Statute

On Monday April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in United States v. Shaw, a closely watched case out of the Ninth Circuit addressing the bank fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1344.  That statute has two subsections, the first of which criminalizes schemes “to defraud a financial institution.”  The question presented in Shaw is … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Clarifies That Untainted Assets Cannot Be Frozen Pre-Trial By The Government

Last week the Supreme Court further clarified the procedures and limits regarding the government’s ability to freeze assets in connection with criminal prosecutions. Following the 2014 decision in Kaley v. United States, where the Court ruled (in the government’s favor) that a defendant could not challenge the legality of a pre-trial asset seizure by contesting … Continue Reading

Justice Department Launches New FCPA Pilot Program

The Department of Justice yesterday upped the ante in its efforts to encourage companies to self-report potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) violations when it unveiled a one-year pilot program that includes carrots for companies who take the self-reporting route and sticks for those that don’t.  This announcement follows the Department’s recent emphasis on prosecuting individuals … Continue Reading

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and Supply Chain Transparency

Introduction The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is new legislation introduced in the UK with the intention of combatting slavery and human trafficking.  Continuing the trend for legislation to have extra-territorial reach, as illustrated by the UK Bribery Act, it can apply to entities based outside of the UK. Of particular importance to businesses is Section 54. … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Rejects Riley Appeal over Personal-Benefit Standard for Insider Trading

The Second Circuit last week affirmed the conviction of a former corporate executive on charges of insider trading.  The court’s unpublished decision on January 14 in United States v. Riley held that the Government had adduced sufficient evidence that the defendant had received a personal benefit – in the form of investment advice – in exchange … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Review Insider-Trading Decision on Personal Benefit

The Supreme Court agreed today to review the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision concerning the “personal benefit” required to establish a claim for insider trading.  The grant of certiorari in Salman v. United States (No. 15-628) could resolve a possible split between the Ninth Circuit and the Second Circuit on the type of … Continue Reading

ARB Rules That Secret Recording of Workplace Conversations Can Be Protected Whistleblowing Activity

On September 28, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) held that the recording of workplace conversations can be protected whistleblower activity under the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (“ERA”).  Franchini v. Argonne National Laboratory, ARB Case No. 13-081 (Sep. 28, 2015).… Continue Reading
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