A unit of Deutsche Bank has agreed to the entry of a cease-and-desist order and to the payment of a $19 million penalty in connection with an SEC enforcement action in which the agency alleged that the unit had made materially misleading statements about its use of ESG factors into its research and investment recommendations. The ESG-related enforcement action was accompanied by a separate anti-money laundering (AML) enforcement action against the unit, Deutsche Bank’s New York-based investment advisor subsidiary, DWS Investment Management Americas (DWS), in which DWS agreed to pay a separate $6 million penalty. The ESG-related action, which apparently involved the SEC’s Climate and ESG Task Force, highlights the ways in which companies seeking to be proactive on ESG-related issues can attract claims. The action also underscores the fact that the SEC is scrutinizing ESG-related disclosures.

Continue Reading Deutsche Bank Unit Hit with SEC Penalties Over ESG Claims

One of the significant trends over the last several years contributing to the overall total volume of securities class action lawsuit filings has been the relative prevalence of securities suits related to SPACs and post-SPAC merger companies. Even though it has now been a considerable amount of time since the SPAC IPO frenzy peaked in the first half of 2021, the lawsuits relating to SPACs and post-SPAC-merger companies continue to be filed. In the latest example of this phenomenon, last week a plaintiff shareholder filed a securities class action lawsuit against the vertical aviation company Archer Aviation and certain of its directors and officers. Archer became a publicly traded company through a September 2021 merger with a SPAC. As discussed below, the new lawsuit against Archer has certain features in common with many of the previously filed SPAC-related lawsuits. A copy of the complaint filed against Archer Aviation can be found here.

Continue Reading Electric Vertical Aviation Company Hit with SPAC-Related Securities Suit

Ever since March 2022, when the SEC released its proposed climate change disclosure guidelines, observers and commentators have watching and waiting to see when the agency would release its final disclosure rules. But in the meantime, important developments elsewhere may mean that many companies may face climate change-related disclosure requirements regardless of the shape the SEC’s final guidelines take. As I noted (here), in July, the European Union adopted its first set of sustainability reporting standards, which will have extensive impact both within and outside the EU. Now, the California legislature has adopted two far-reaching climate-related disclosure bills, which could affect thousands of companies – both public and private, and both within and outside California – and that together could, as the Wall Street Journal put it, represent “among the biggest changes in corporate disclosure in decades.”

Continue Reading California Enacts Far-Reaching Climate-Related Disclosure Requirements
A view of the mainland from Penang

The D&O Diary’s Asia Pacific tour concluded earlier this week with a stop on the Malaysian island of Penang, which is located just off the northwest coast of peninsular Malaysia. The island’s rich cultural heritage and legendary food made Penang a particularly enjoyable place to visit as my last stop before heading home.

Continue Reading Malaysia

Earlier this year three large U.S. banks failed in a sequence of events that has been called The Banking Crisis of 2023. While federal regulators acted decisively and forcefully to prevent the bank failures from triggering a contagion event, the underlying problems that caused the three banks to fail continued to trouble many other U.S. lending institutions. Among the banks that faced continued challenges and continuing questions is the California-based bank Pac West, which in July 2023 announced that as a way to try to deal with its woes it was being acquired by the Bank of California. Now, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a securities class action lawsuit against Pac West and certain of its directors and officers alleging misrepresentations in connection with the events surrounding the other banks’ failures ad leading up to the July merger. The new lawsuit is the latest example of the ways in which ongoing issues in the banking sector are leading to securities class action lawsuit filings. A copy of the new complaint can be found here.

Continue Reading Regional Bank Hit with Banking Crisis-Related Securities Suit

Every now and then it is worthwhile to go back to the basics. In the following guest post, Greg Markel, Gina Ferrari, and Sarah Fedner, all of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm, review the basic building blocks of corporate governance duties and discuss ways for directors and boards to avoid violating the duties. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.

Continue Reading Guest Post: Essential Corporate Governance Duties and How To Avoid Violating Them

The D&O Diary is on assignment in the Asia Pacific region this week, with a first stop in the beautiful Australian city of Sydney. Even though it was still Southern Hemisphere late winter/early spring while I was in Australia, the weather was beautiful and even summerlike. I was fortunate that my meeting schedule in Sydney allowed me a little bit of time to enjoy the weather and the sunshine, as the pictures below reflect.

Continue Reading Sydney

In the latest development in a short but very interesting sequence of events in a recently filed SPAC-related securities lawsuit, a federal district court judge in the Southern District of Florida has directed a magistrate judge to consider whether the plaintiff’s firm that filed the lawsuit must show cause that it didn’t violate and bar or local rules in allegedly soliciting the plaintiff on whose behalf the law firm filed the complaint.

Continue Reading Plaintiff Law Firm’s Client Solicitation Practices to Face Scrutiny