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 Regulatory

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SEC Greenlights Board Diversity Requirements

After much debate, the SEC on Friday approved a Nasdaq proposal that will require listed companies to adopt several diversity-related measures.  Nasdaq first made this proposal, which requires listed companies to publicly disclose diversity information about their board members and either hire “diverse” members to their boards or explain why they do not in writing, … Continue Reading

FINRA Lives Up To Its Name, Announces Regulatory Inquiries into SPACs

While 2021 has been exceptionally lucrative for SPAC sponsors – even more so than 2020’s “Year of the SPAC” – U.S. regulators appear emphatic that 2021 be the year of SPAC supervision.  In April, the SEC released guidance on SPACs and related risks, highlighted by its novel argument that the entire lifespan of the SPAC … Continue Reading

Review of the SEC Whistleblower Program: At the Crossroads of Securities Law and Whistleblower Protection

Fiscal year 2020 marked the ten-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act establishing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program. Since its inception through the end of FY2020, the SEC has awarded approximately $562 million to 106 individuals. Even a decade after it was created, the whistleblower program continues to … 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

SEC Speaks Out on SPACs, Highlights Legal Liability and Reporting Risks

SPACs seem to be having their moment in the financial world, especially in 2021.  In less than three months, U.S.-based SPACs have raised more money – almost $88 billion – than all SPACs combined in 2020 (which held the previous high for SPAC investment by some margin).  They have even reached a level of societal … Continue Reading

A Warning to Cryptocurrency Users from the Justice Department’s Tax Division

As you might expect during tax season, the Justice Department’s press releases seem particularly focused on tax-related issues these days.  At the start of this month, DOJ sent a stern reminder to the public that non-traditional currency users should not expect to escape federal tax law enforcement. On April 1, the district court for the … Continue Reading

SEC Punts NASDAQ Diversity Decision

After receiving extensive outside pressure from a variety of sources, include Senate Republicans, the SEC announced last week that it is deferring its decision on whether to approve a Nasdaq proposal to require “diverse” members on companies’ boards. The SEC is also simultaneously awaiting the confirmation of its new Chairman, Gary Gensler, which is still … Continue Reading

SEC Announces Important Changes to Disqualification Waivers

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. … Continue Reading

SEC Flexes Funny Bone in Fictional Token Offering

The Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) has taken to using humor and sarcasm to educate retail investors about the potential risks of purchasing tokens in initial coin offerings (“ICOs”).This week, the SEC issued a press release presenting “a hot investment opportunity.” The release pointed to a website touting the HoweyCoin—a fictional crypto token intending … Continue Reading

SEC Staff Announces 2018 OCIE Examination Priorities

Last week, the staff of the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) recently released its sixth annual examination priorities announcement. The alert lays out general issues industry can expect OCIE to focus on during the administration of the agency’s examination program in 2018. While reflecting a renewed emphasis of SEC Chair Jay Clayton … Continue Reading

SEC Continues to Use Advanced Data Analytics to Investigate Insider Trading

The SEC has continued to pursue a number of insider trading cases this year, both large-scale and small. Some of those matters involved trades that yielded relatively small amounts of profits: $40,000-$60,000. Why does the enforcement division spend resources on these smaller cases? First, they serve as a reminder that violations can be identified, even … Continue Reading

SEC Overrules Its Own Administrative Law Judge to Clear Customer of Fraud Charges

In a rare reversal of its own administrative law judge in the Matter of optionsXpress, the full Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously held that the SEC’s Enforcement Division had not met its burden of proof that the customer of a broker-dealer had committed securities fraud in connection with his clearing broker-dealer’s failure to deliver stock … Continue Reading

Joshua Newville Discusses Amendments to Rules Governing SEC Administrative Proceedings with Compliance Week

Last month, the SEC announced that it had adopted amendments updating the rules of practice governing its in-house administrative proceedings.  On August 9, 2016, Compliance Week published an article on the recently-adopted amendments, entitled, SEC modifies administrative proceedings, but did it go far enough? The article features insights from Proskauer partner Joshua Newville, who discusses … Continue Reading

Key Takeaways from Cornerstone Research’s Securities Class-Action Filings 2016 Midyear Assessment

Cornerstone Research recently released its 2016 midyear assessment of federal securities class-actions filings. The report finds an increase in filings in the first half of 2016, with particular increases in M&A filings, filings against U.S.-exchange-listed companies and S&P 500 companies, and filings within both the Financial and Consumer Non-Cyclical sectors. Below are some key takeaways … Continue Reading

SEC Adopts Amendments to Rules Governing Its Administrative Proceedings

Earlier today, the SEC announced that it will adopt certain amendments to its rules of practice governing administrative proceedings. Faced with criticism from practitioners and the media regarding a perceived “home field advantage” in administrative proceedings, as well as various constitutional challenges to the ALJ process, the SEC has now approved amendments “intended to update … Continue Reading

Supreme Court’s Manning Decision Leaves Questions Unanswered

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision yesterday in Merrill Lynch v. Manning clarified the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Exchange Act in certain important respects, but also left open critical issues that may arise in future cases.  Although the Court rejected federal jurisdiction in resolving the sole issue that was before it, the Court also … Continue Reading

Investors Fight Back – Court Battle Could Determine Scope of HSR Act Exemption

When an enforcement action for a violation of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act is announced, chances are the matter has already come to a close – by the time the action becomes public, the agency and the parties usually have agreed upon financial penalties and other sanctions to be levied. But that is not the case for … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Adopts Actual-Knowledge Standard for MD&A Disclosures

The Second Circuit held yesterday that Item 303 of SEC Regulation S-K requires issuers to disclose only those trends, events, or uncertainties about which the issuer has actual knowledge, rather than those matters about which the issuer allegedly should have known.  The court’s decision in Indiana Public Retirement System v. SAIC, Inc. also reinforced prior … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Addresses Statutes of Repose and Tolling in Securities Class Actions

The Second Circuit has clarified the applicable statutes of repose for securities-fraud and proxy-related claims under §§ 9(f), 14(a), and 18(a) of the Securities Exchange Act. The court’s March 17, 2016 decision in DeKalb County Pension Fund v. Transocean Ltd. holds that the five-year statute of repose enacted in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX”) applies to … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Reinforces Liability Standard in Securities Cases Based on Statements of Opinion

On March 4, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinforced the stringency of the new standard for liability in securities cases arising from allegedly misleading statements of opinion. Construing the Supreme Court’s 2015 Omnicare decision, the Second Circuit held in Gen. Partners Glenn Tongue v. Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, Inc. that a statement … Continue Reading

Regulatory And Litigation Hot Topics For Private Funds In 2016

Private investment funds are likely to face increased regulatory scrutiny and litigation risk in 2016, not only based on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s focus on the industry but also due to transparency and compliance initiatives of limited partners and other market developments. We have highlighted several areas that should be on the top of … Continue Reading
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