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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Fifth Circuit Holds SEC’s In-House Courts and Judges Unconstitutional

In Jarkesy v. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a remarkable opinion holding numerous aspects of the SEC’s administrative enforcement regime are unconstitutional.  The May 18, 2022 ruling stands to eliminate the SEC’s ability to adjudicate enforcement actions seeking penalties using ALJs, rather than bringing suit in federal … Continue Reading

SEC Issues New Guidance Regarding Russia Sanctions and Public Company Disclosures

In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine in February, the U.S. government announced sweeping sanctions against Russia. As the conflict nears the three-month mark, businesses around the world are continuing to address compliance with these sanctions. To that end, the SEC recently issued guidance on how companies affected by the Russian … Continue Reading

SEC Proposes Extensive New Rules Applicable to SPACs and de-SPAC Transactions

This week, our corporate colleagues published a handy guide to the SEC’s new proposed rules on SPACs. Of particular note to securities watchers should be potential increases in litigation stemming from changes to the definition of “blank check company” for the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “PSLRA”). The SEC has long given … Continue Reading

Major SPAC News, Rules May Be Coming This Week

On Thursday, March 24th, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced an agenda for a March 30th open meeting for the Divisions on Corporate Finance and Investment Management.  The meeting has only one agenda item: SPACs, shell companies, and projections. In December 2021, SEC Chair Gary Gensler compared SPACs to traditional IPOs, and noted that there … Continue Reading

SEC Proposes Broad New Climate Change Disclosure Requirements

Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a set of sweeping new rules requiring public companies to disclose climate-related risks in their registration statements and periodic reports.  Under the proposed rules, public companies would have to disclose the actual and potential impacts of climate change on their business, management and governance processes to … Continue Reading

Securities Litigation: An Emerging Strategy to Hold Companies Accountable for Privacy Protections

A California federal judge rejected Zoom Video Communications, Inc.’s motion to dismiss securities fraud claims against it, and its CEO and CFO, for misrepresenting Zoom’s privacy protections. Although there have been a number of cases challenging inadequate privacy protections on consumer protection grounds in recent years, this decision shifts the spotlight to an additional front … Continue Reading

SEC Defeats Motion to Dismiss Insider-Trading Complaint Alleging Novel “Shadow Trading” Theory

The SEC prevailed on a motion to dismiss a closely watched lawsuit alleging that the defendant had engaged 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 January 14, 2022 decision in SEC v. Panuwat (N.D. Cal.) marks the first time … Continue Reading

California Federal Court Holds U.S. Securities Laws Inapplicable to Unsponsored, Unlisted ADR Transaction Preceded by Purchase of Common Stock Outside the U.S.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held on January 7, 2022 that the federal securities laws do not apply to U.S. transactions in unlisted, unsponsored American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”) for a foreign issuer’s shares where the ADR purchases depended on prior purchases of the underlying common stock on a foreign exchange.  … Continue Reading

Gensler Speaks Out on SPACs, Notes Similarities with Traditional IPOs and Hints at Future SEC Action

SEC Chair Gary Gensler made news again last week with a series of statements regarding SPACs, noting their similarities with traditional IPOs and hinting at future regulatory action aimed at these investment vehicles. In a December 9, 2021 speech before the Healthy Markets Association Conference, Chair Gensler addressed SPACs and how the SEC staff believes … Continue Reading

SEC Brings First Enforcement Action Against Alternative Data Provider

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a settled securities fraud action against App Annie Inc., one of the largest sellers of market data on how apps on mobile devices are performing, and its co-founder and former CEO and Chairman Bertrand Schmitt.  The settlement is the first enforcement action brought by the SEC against an … Continue Reading

SEC Investor Advisory Committee Considers Recommendations to Tighten Rules for Insiders’ Trading Plans

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Advisory Committee (the “IAC”) is considering recommendations from its Owner Subcommittee urging the Commission to tighten the affirmative defense and disclosure requirements for SEC Rule 10b5-1 trading plans.  These recommendations follow recent statements by SEC Chair Gary Gensler signaling the agency’s intention to review and toughen rules governing those plans.… Continue Reading

July 2021 Update of the SEC’s Covered Actions for Potential Whistleblower Claims

On July 30, 2021, the SEC posted 14 Notices of Covered Actions, after which individuals have 90 calendar days to apply for a whistleblower award.  As discussed in our prior post, the SEC publishes these Notices for cases in which the final judgment or order, either by itself or together with other prior judgments or … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Holds that Accurately Reported Financial Statements Are Not Actionable and that Materiality Has a Half-Life

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held earlier this week that a company’s accurately reported financial statements are not misleading simply because they do not disclose that alleged misconduct might have contributed to the company’s financial results. The court also ruled that alleged misstatements made three to four years before the plaintiffs … Continue Reading

MNPI Update: SEC Pursues “Shadow Trading” Insider Trading Case

The SEC recently charged a former employee of a biopharmaceutical company with insider trading in advance of an acquisition but with a unique twist: Trading the securities of a company unrelated to the merger. The employee, Matthew Panuwat, did not trade his own company’s or the acquiring company’s securities, but instead purchased stock options for … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Discovery Stays Apply to State-Court Securities Lawsuits This Fall

One of the most significant differences between bringing a securities lawsuit in state versus federal court is the application of the mandatory discovery stay set forth in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (the “PSLRA”).  Following the enactment of the PSLRA in 1995, federal courts must stay discovery in securities-law cases until after a complaint … Continue Reading

SEC’s Coinschedule Settlement Offers Mere “Clue-By-Enforcement” Into Whether Cryptocurrencies are Securities

On July 14, 2021 the SEC issued a consented-to Cease and Desist Order against U.K.-based cryptocurrency review website owner Blotics Ltd. (formerly doing business as Coinschedule Ltd.) for violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act. According to two SEC Commissioners, the decision should have but didn’t clarify the Commission’s position as to whether and when … Continue Reading

District Court Takes Judicial Notice of SEC Order in Denying Motion to Dismiss Shareholder Claims

In our previous post, Under Armour Inc. Pulls Sales Forward, SEC and Stockholders Push Back, we discussed Under Armour Inc.’s recent settlement with the SEC, under which Under Armour agreed to pay $9 million for alleged violations of federal securities laws. While that settlement marked the end of a two year investigation into Under Armour’s … Continue Reading

Under Armour Inc. Pulls Sales Forward, SEC and Stockholders Push Back

As the culmination of an SEC investigation into Under Armour Inc.’s “pull forward” practice leads to charges, Under Armour agrees to cease and desist and settles for $9 million. Following an investigation dating back to 2015, the SEC claimed Under Armour misled investors by not disclosing the reason for its growth in revenue and what … Continue Reading

First Circuit Adopts Prevailing Standard for Applicability of Federal Securities Laws to Foreign Investors, But Rejects Second Circuit’s Narrower Test

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held yesterday that the U.S. securities laws apply to foreign brokers’ solicitations of securities purchases by foreign investors if the purchasers or sellers incurred irrevocable liability within the United States to pay for or deliver the securities. The decision in SEC v. Morrone follows the “irrevocable … Continue Reading

DOJ Tax Division Shows Continued Interest in Cryptocurrency

On May 5, 2021, another federal district court, this time for the Northern District of California, permitted the IRS to proceed with a John Doe summons very similar to the one served on Circle last month (the subject of a recent post).  This time, the Summons seeks information on customers of a San Francisco-headquartered digital … Continue Reading
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