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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Ninth Circuit Applies Lower Standard for Pleading Scienter Under § 14(e) of Securities Exchange Act Even as to Opinions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled last week that the securities-law requirement to plead a “strong inference” of scienter does not apply to claims under § 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act even where the challenged statement is a statement of opinion.  The decision in Grier v. Finjan Holdings, Inc. (In re … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Revives Securities Class Action Against Six Flags

Last week, the Fifth Circuit reversed a decision from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas that had dismissed a class action against Six Flags Entertainment Corporation.  The complaint in Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp., et al., alleged Six Flags and its former CEO and … Continue Reading

SBF Prosecution Raises Novel Issues for Asset Forfeiture and Victim Restitution

The crimes charged against SBF are simple — old-fashioned fraud through a Ponzi scheme.  His conviction seems inevitable. For the government, the challenging part of this case will be the forfeiture proceedings.  Under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (MVRA), federal prosecutors have an affirmative obligation to use their “best efforts” to see that crime victims are … Continue Reading

SEC Enforcement Director and SDNY/EDNY Officials Address Enforcement Priorities

SEC Division of Enforcement Director Gurbir Grewal and several high-ranking officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the FBI spoke on November 29, 2022 at a conference sponsored by Sandpiper Partners LLC concerning hot topics in SEC and DOJ enforcement.  The panelists all made clear that … Continue Reading

Keeping Up With Kim Kardashian’s SEC Charges

The SEC spread its reach to Hollywood this month – on October 3, 2022, the SEC announced charges against Kim Kardashian for her social media promotions of EMAX, a digital token issued by EthereumMax. The SEC found that Kardashian violated the anti-touting provision of the federal securities laws by failing to disclose the $250,000 payment … Continue Reading

CFTC Head Urges Congressional Action on Crypto while SEC Leader Says Crypto Rulemaking is “Years Away”

Both the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and leader of the SEC agree that the crypto markets need regulating, and specific rules may help clarify which agency has authority to regulate various cryptocurrency activities. The client alert below discusses both CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam’s comments and SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s remarks during … Continue Reading

Cryptic Guidance? Despite Regulatory Ambiguity, New SEC Enforcement Could Drive Increase in Cryptocurrency-Related Shareholder Class Actions   

In late-July, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought insider trading charges against a former manager at Coinbase—the largest crypto asset trading platform in the United States. The charges are the latest move in the agency’s efforts to regulate cryptocurrency, and could spur an increase in cryptocurrency-related securities litigation.… Continue Reading

New York Law Journal: What Makes a Scheme

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a decision that may prevent the expansion of scheme liability under the federal securities laws.  The SEC brought scheme liability allegations against Rio Tinto, its CEO, and its CFO, based on their alleged failure to correct prior materially misleading statements that had been made to the company’s … Continue Reading

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
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