The SEC suffered a significant loss last week in its ongoing legal battle with Ripple over the XRP digital token. While the District Court held that Ripple’s initial sales of XRP to institutional investors constituted the sale of unregistered securities, it was a Pyrrhic victory as the court held that all other ways in which Ripple sold or distributed XRP did not involve the sale of unregistered securities. In particular, the court held that Ripple’s program to sell XRP to public buyers on digital asset exchanges, as well as its distribution of XRP as compensation to employees and third parties, did not constitute the offer or sale of securities. The court also rejected the SEC’s arguments that Ripple used the institutional buyers as underwriters to sell XRP to the public. The opinion, if followed by other courts in pending litigation with the SEC, could have a far-reaching impact on the cryptocurrency markets, especially with respect to secondary market crypto trades on digital asset exchanges.
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 the views they expressed were their own, but those views are worth hearing.
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 did not appear to apply equally to all class members’ token purchases and that the lead plaintiff had not produced evidence showing that its own purchases were (or were not) subject to the securities laws in a proportion similar to other class members’ purchases.
In late December 2020, the SEC filed a litigated action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Ripple Labs Inc. and two of its executive officers (collectively, “Ripple”), alleging that Ripple raised over $1.3 billion in unregistered offerings of the digital asset known as…
As the world waits to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, publicly traded pharmaceutical companies waging in that fight are facing the multifaceted challenge of developing COVID-19 responses, informing the public of their progress, and managing legal challenges related to their efforts. Enter AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca partnered with Oxford University to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in April 2020, which it later called “AZD1222.” On May 21, 2020, the company announced that the United States government was providing more than $1 billion for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine. Over the course of the next six months, the company continued to make public announcements on further financial support agreements and interim development results on its vaccine progress.
We blogged last week about a New York federal court’s decision in Duka v. SEC conditionally sustaining a facial challenge to an administrative enforcement proceeding conducted by Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In that case, Judge Richard M. Berman, of the Southern District of New York, held that SEC ALJs are “inferior officers” of the United States for purposes of the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause and that the ALJs at issue had not been appointed by the SEC Commissioners, in seeming violation of that constitutional provision. However, the court gave the SEC seven days to cure the defect “by having the SEC Commissioners issue an appointment or preside over the matter themselves.”
The SEC refused to take the bait. The SEC informed the court on August 10, 2015 that the Commission has already heard argument on the constitutional challenge in at least one proceeding, but has not yet issued a decision or taken any other action.
A federal District Judge in the Southern District of New York appears to have conditionally sustained a facial challenge to an administrative enforcement proceeding conducted by Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In an August 3, 2015 decision in Duka v. SEC, 1:15-cv-00357, Judge Richard M. Berman held that he had subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiff’s application to enjoin the administrative proceedings, that SEC ALJs are “inferior officers” of the United States for purposes of the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause, and that the ALJs at issue had not been appointed by the SEC Commissioners in seeming violation of the Appointments Clause. However, the court gave the SEC seven days to cure the defect “by having the SEC Commissioners issue an appointment or preside over the matter themselves.”
The travails of Petrobras have generated a lot of attention – and litigation – in the past year. On July 30, 2015, District Judge Jed Rakoff, of the Southern District of New York, issued an opinion explaining his prior order largely denying the defendants’ motions to dismiss U.S. securities-law claims filed on behalf of a putative class of purchasers of Petrobras’s sponsored American Depository Shares, which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In re Petrobras Securities Litigation. But the court dismissed the claims of purchasers who – in addition to buying Petrobras securities on the NYSE or in other U.S. transactions – had also bought Petrobras securities on the Brazilian stock exchange (the “Bovespa”) and had sought to assert claims under Brazilian law as to those purchases. The court ruled that the Brazilian-law claims were subject to a mandatory arbitration bylaw that Petrobras had adopted in 2002 by board resolution and shareholder vote.