A federal jury in California agreed with the SEC that a corporate official engaged in insider trading when he purchased securities of a company based on material nonpublic information (“MNPI”) about a different company. The April 5, 2024 verdict for the SEC in SEC v. Panuwat (N.D. Cal.) could embolden the SEC to pursue more claims of “shadow trading,” which involves trading the securities of a public company that is not the direct subject of the MNPI but whose stock price allegedly would be affected by that news.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed an injunction against enforcement of portions of Florida’s “anti-woke” law, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to attend training sessions or other activities that “espouse” or “promote” eight “concepts” relating to race, color, sex, or national origin. The unanimous decision in Honeyfund.com, Inc. v. Governor, State of Florida (11th Cir. Mar. 4, 2024) held that the Florida statute draws “distinctions based on viewpoint – the most pernicious forms of dividing lines under the First Amendment” – and cannot be sustained as an “attempt to control speech by recharacterizing it as conduct.”

Well – this took four months. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered en banc rehearing of an unsuccessful challenge to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval of the Nasdaq Stock Market’s rules concerning diversity of directors on boards of Nasdaq-listed companies. The rules – which a panel of the Fifth Circuit upheld in October 2023 – require listed companies to disclose director-diversity information and either to have a certain number of diverse directors or to explain why not. We blogged about that decision here.

A federal district court in Missouri recently denied a motion to dismiss the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s (“SIFMA’s”) challenge to Missouri Securities Division rules that require financial firms and professionals to obtain clients’ signatures on state-prescribed documents before providing advice that “incorporates a social or nonfinancial objective.” The decision – Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association v. Ashcroft – upholds a noteworthy response from the securities industry to the anti-ESG backlash that has emerged in the past few years and has politicized investment decisionmaking.

The Delaware Court of Chancery recently held that claims for breach of the fiduciary duty of oversight are not easier to plead against corporate officers than against corporate directors. The decision in Segway Inc. v. Cai emphasizes the high burden for pleading oversight claims against officers as well as directors, and it repeats the admonition that the oversight doctrine “is not a tool to hold fiduciaries liable for everyday business problems.”

On November 29, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued a final rule aimed to ease compliance with certain aspects of the regulations promulgated under the Corporate Transparency Act. The final rule extends the deadline from 30 days to 90 days for entities created or registered during 2024

The SEC defeated a motion for summary judgment brought by a defendant whom the SEC accused of engaging in insider trading based on news about a not-yet-public corporate acquisition when he purchased securities of a company not involved in that deal. The November 20, 2023 decision in SEC v. Panuwat (N.D. Cal.) keeps alive the SEC’s theory of “shadow trading,” which involves trading the securities of a public company that is not the direct subject of the material nonpublic information (“MNPI”) at issue.

The Panuwat decision does not appear to break new ground under the misappropriation theory of insider trading in light of the particular facts alleged. But the “shadow trading” theory warrants attention because it can potentially have wide-ranging ramifications for traders by broadening the scope of the types of nonpublic information that might be deemed material.