The Second Circuit held earlier this week that the criminal statute proscribing securities fraud permits convictions for insider trading without proof that the provider of material, nonpublic information received a personal benefit in exchange for that information, even though proof of a personal benefit would be required under the general securities-law statute prohibiting insider trading. The decision in United States v. Blaszczak could ease prosecutors’ burden in obtaining convictions for insider trading by enabling the government to avoid the potentially complicated “personal benefit” issue, which has generated much litigation in recent years. The ruling would not affect civil cases, to which the criminal statute does not apply. Continue Reading
On September 25, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) adopted Rule 163B under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act” ), which permits all issuers, including business development companies (“BDCs”) and registered investment companies (collectively, “Funds”), to gauge market interest in contemplated registered securities offerings by engaging in oral or written communications (“test-the-waters” communications) with certain potential investors prior to, or following, the filing of a registration statement.
The Delaware Supreme Court yesterday rejected a presumption of confidentiality for documents produced pursuant to books-and-records inspection requests under § 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. The decision in Tiger v. Boast Apparel, Inc. (Del. Aug. 7, 2019) holds that courts can impose confidentiality restrictions in appropriate cases, but that some justification of confidentiality is necessary – and that an indefinite period of confidentiality should be the exception, not the rule.
In light of the emphasis that the Delaware Supreme Court has placed on § 220 requests particularly in the context of shareholder derivative actions, parties making and receiving those requests might now need to focus more closely on whether and the extent to which confidentiality restrictions can be justified and, if so, how long they should last. Continue Reading
On July 3, 2019, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton issued a “Statement Regarding Offers of Settlement” (the “Statement”), announcing important changes to how the SEC will consider future requests for waivers from disqualifications in settlements. The Statement may have been in response to the Bad Actor Disqualification Act of 2019 recently proposed by Representative Maxine Waters. Regardless of the impetus, the Statement should provide settling parties with greater certainty regarding the waiver process. Importantly, the new policy effectively allows a settling party to condition its offer of settlement on whether the SEC grants a requested waiver.
One of the more intriguing rulings of this Supreme Court Term is the Court’s one-sentence order yesterday dismissing as improvidently granted the writ of certiorari issued in Emulex Corp. v. Varjabedian (No. 18-459). The Court had taken the case to review a Circuit split on the liability standard under § 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act, which regulates tender offers. Along the way, however, the petitioner argued that a private right of action does not exist at all under § 14(e) – an issue that had not been raised in the lower courts. That issue occupied a large portion of the oral argument held on April 15, 2019, with the parties and the Justices exploring whether the Court should entertain the previously unraised issue and, if so, what the outcome should be. Continue Reading
The Supreme Court held on March 27 that persons who do not “make” material misstatements or omissions, but who disseminate them to potential investors with fraudulent intent, can be held to have violated other provisions of the securities laws that do not depend on actually “making” the misstatements or omissions. The Court’s decision in Lorenzo v. SEC (No. 17-1077) reads the anti-fraud provisions broadly and bolsters the ability of investors and governmental authorities to pursue persons who employ fraudulent schemes or practices even if those persons themselves do not “make” any material misrepresentations or omissions.
The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit yesterday affirmed the dismissal of a securities class action alleging misrepresentations arising from generalized statements about an issuer’s compliance efforts and Code of Ethics. The decision in Singh v. Cigna Corporation held that such generic statements are not material because a reasonable investor could not have relied on them as representations of regulatory compliance. Continue Reading