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: Securities Litigation

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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

Shining a Light on the Corporate Transparency Act: FinCEN’s Rules for Beneficial Ownership Reporting

On January 1, 2021, Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act as part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 to “better enable critical national security, intelligence, and law enforcement efforts to counter money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and other illicit activity.” FinCEN issued the final rule on Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Requirements on September … Continue Reading

First-of-its-Kind Crypto Insider Trading Conviction

In the first insider trading case involving cryptocurrencies, a crypto trader was convicted of insider trading in federal district court and recently sentenced to 10 months in prison. The defendant, Nikhil Wahi, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to illegally trading on information tipped by his brother, … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Denies Dismissal of Challenge to SPAC Merger Disclosures

The Delaware Court of Chancery yesterday denied a motion to dismiss a class action alleging that the directors and sponsor of a special-purpose acquisition company (a “SPAC”) breached their fiduciary duties by disloyally depriving the SPAC’s public stockholders of information material to their decision whether to redeem their stock before the SPAC merged with a … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds that Social Media Communications Can Satisfy Statutory-Seller Requirement Under Securities Act

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held today that social media and other mass communications concerning securities can constitute solicitations potentially creating statutory-seller liability under § 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933.  The decision in Pino v. Cardone Capital, LLC (9th Cir. Dec. 21, 2022) joins a recent Eleventh Circuit ruling in rejecting the need … 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

SolarWinds: A Lesson on How Companies Victimized by Data Breaches Can Quickly Become the Target of Litigation and Regulatory Investigations

In 2020, SolarWinds Corp., a company that provided information technology software to private and government entities, was the victim of a cybersecurity breach.  Russian hackers are believed to have slipped malicious code into a SolarWinds software product called Orion, which was then used to infect, and in certain cases, compromise, SolarWinds customers.  As a consequence, … Continue Reading

In The Zone? When Directors of Portfolio Companies Have to Take Creditor Interests into Account

Representatives of asset managers often take up positions on the boards of portfolio companies. We have written posts before on some of the litigation and regulatory risks that can arise, both for the asset managers and the individuals including: Portfolio Company Risk: Plaintiffs Set Sights on Sponsors and Board Directors, The Trend of Increasing Disclosure Obligations for Private … Continue Reading

Father Sometimes Knows Best: District Court Blasts SEC’s “No Admit, No Deny” Provisions

In a scathing opinion, Southern District of New York Judge Ronnie Abrams recently blasted the SEC’s standard demand that defendants settling with the Commission agree never to deny the allegations against them.  Judge Abrams’ decision in SEC v. Moraes reluctantly approved a consent decree containing the usual “no admit, no deny” provision in light of … 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

SEC Eyes Further Crypto Regulation as Concerns over Conflicts of Interest Loom

SEC Chair Gary Gensler appears to be readying the SEC for increasing oversight of cryptocurrency exchanges, the latest in a series of regulatory actions targeting the growing industry. In prepared remarks at PLI’s recent SEC Speaks conference, Gensler called on cryptocurrency platforms to register each function they perform with the SEC – for example, requiring … 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

Blockchain Meets Morrison: Court Rejects Blockchain Class Settlement Because of Concerns About Adequacy of Representation

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently rejected a proposed settlement of a securities class action involving purchasers of digital tokens due to concerns about whether the lead plaintiff had adequately represented the class for settlement purposes.  Judge Lewis A. Kaplan held in Williams v. Block.one that the federal securities laws … Continue Reading

Dis-Honest: Judge Allows Lawsuit against Jessica Alba Company to Move Forward

A judge in the United States District Court for the Central District of California has allowed a lawsuit against actress Jessica Alba’s child and personal care company Honest to move forward. The case is the latest in a series of investor-led actions against companies that shareholders claim have used COVID-19 and associated disruptions to mislead … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Allows Use of “Reliable” Hearsay to Support Books-and-Records Demand

The Delaware Supreme Court held yesterday that a stockholder seeking to inspect corporate books and records may use “reliable” hearsay to establish the propriety of the purpose of the inspection demand. The decision in NVIDIA Corp. v. City of Westland Police and Fire Retirement System (July 19, 2022) does not appear to break new ground on … Continue Reading

Divided Delaware Supreme Court Decision Highlights Issues About Director Independence in Derivative Actions

The Delaware Supreme Court recently affirmed a Court of Chancery ruling granting a Special Litigation Committee’s motion to terminate a shareholder derivative action that had survived a motion to dismiss. The split decision in El Pollo Loco (June 28, 2022) highlights whether a director can be considered independent – especially as a member of a Special … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Upholds Delaware-Forum Bylaw That Precludes Assertion of Federal Proxy Claim

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a shareholder derivative action in light of an exclusive-forum bylaw requiring assertion of derivative claims in the Delaware Court of Chancery, even though the case included a federal claim that was subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction and could not have been litigated in … 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

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 Says Remedy Stops Penalty: HeadSpin Avoids Fine in SEC Fraud Action

On January 28, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against HeadSpin, Inc., a Silicon Valley start-up. In the complaint, the SEC alleged that HeadSpin, though its then-CEO Manish Lachwani, engaged in a fraudulent scheme “to propel its valuation to over $1 … Continue Reading

Key Takeaways from Recent Court Rulings on Corporate Board Oversight

Corporate boards are subject to a duty of oversight, as part of their duty of loyalty to their company. As outlined by Delaware’s famously stringent Caremark standard, pleading a violation of that duty is often difficult. However, the Delaware Court of Chancery has issued several recent opinions addressing duty of oversight claims where they held the … 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
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