Matt Stock
Jason Zuckerman

In the following guest post, Matt Stock and Jason Zuckerman take a look at five ways that the SEC whistleblower program has affected both corporate compliance and the SEC’s enforcement efforts. Matt and Jason represent whistleblowers worldwide in whistleblower rewards and whistleblower retaliation claims. My thanks to Matt and Jason 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 Matt and Jason’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: How the SEC Whistleblower Program Has Changed Corporate Compliance and SEC Enforcement

In a June 4, 2020 press release (here), the SEC announced that it had granted an individual a $50 million whistleblower award, the largest ever award to a single individual. While there had been a prior $50 million award that two individuals shared, the largest prior award to a single individual was a 2018 award of $39 million.
Continue Reading SEC Grants Largest Ever Individual Whistleblower Award

In the largest such award so far this year, the SEC has awarded more than $27 million to a whistleblower, an award amount that the Commission increased above staff recommendations in recognition that the whistleblower had “repeatedly and tenaciously” voiced his concerns about the misconduct within his organization before reporting it to the agency. As discussed below, there are a number of noteworthy features about this award. The Commission’s April 16, 2020 order about the award can be found here. The Commission’s April 16, 2020 press release about the award can be found here.
Continue Reading “Tenacious” SEC Whistleblower Awarded More Than $27 Million

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on February 21, 2018 that the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provisions protect only whistleblowers that make a report to the SEC, and do not apply to whistleblowers who report internally. The Court’s ruling, which resolved a circuit split on the question of who was entitled to the Act’s provisions, will significant limit the scope of the anti-retaliation protections. The Court’s February 21, 2018 opinion in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers can be found here.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Adopts Narrow View of Who Can Rely on Dodd-Frank Act’s Anti-Retaliation Protections

sup ct 4In the flurry of opinions and orders on Monday on the final day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s term, and amid the hubbub over the Court’s action on the Trump administration travel ban order, you might well have overlooked the fact that on Monday the Court also agreed to take up the question of whether or not the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provisions apply to and protect individuals who did not make a whistleblower report to the SEC. The lower courts have struggled with the question of whether or not the anti-retaliation protections extend to individuals who file internal reports within their own companies. A split on the issue has developed and now the U.S. Supreme Court will have the opportunity to address the question in the case of Digital Realty Trust v. Somers. The Court’s June 26, 2017 order granting Digital Realty Trust’s petition for a writ of certiorari can be found here.
Continue Reading Supreme Court to Review Whether Dodd-Frank Anti-Retaliation Provisions Protect Internal Whistleblowers

us capitolIn a post last week, I wrote about the proposed revised Financial Choice Act (H.R. 10) now pending before Congress and the potential impact that the bill could have on the SEC’s enforcement program. In this post, I address the potential impact that the bill’s provisions could have on public company disclosure requirements and corporate governance. If the bill’s provisions are enacted into law, the measures could significantly alter or eliminate many of the Dodd-Frank Act’s disclosure and corporate governance requirements.
Continue Reading Proposed Disclosure and Corporate Governance Reforms in the Financial Choice Act 2.0

us capital 2One of the Trump administration’s high profile initiatives is the review and rollback of many of the Dodd-Frank Act’s features.  Consistent with these efforts, an updated version of a bill that would undo many of the Act’s provisions is now making its way through Congress. The Financial Choice Act (H.B. 10) was introduced in April by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) Because Hensarling introduced a similar bill with the same name during the last Congressional session, the recently introduced bill is referred to as Financial Choice Act 2.0. The bill, which has already passed through the House Financial Services Committee, addresses a number of high profile issues affecting the regulation of the financial system. The systemic issues are attracting all of the headlines. Other features of the bill are attracting less notice. Of particular interest here, the bill introduces a number of changes to the SEC’s enforcement authority. As Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee commented in congressional hearing testimony, these changes, if enacted, would “hobble the SEC’s enforcement program,” and the “cumulative effect” would be “devastating.”
Continue Reading Financial Choice Act 2.0 Proposes Significant Changes to the SEC’s Enforcement Authority

utahPrior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2010 decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank, U.S. courts held that the U.S. securities laws could be applied extraterritorially if there was sufficient fraudulent conduct or were sufficient effects from that conduct in the U.S.  In Morrison the Supreme Court rejected this “conduct or effects” test, ruling that the U.S. securities laws apply to allegedly fraudulent transactions, not to alleged fraudulent conduct or its effects, and further that the securities laws apply only to domestic transactions. However, within days after the Morrison decision, the U.S. Congress, as part of its enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, purported to provide the SEC and the U.S. DOJ “jurisdiction” to pursue enforcement actions based not on transactions in the U.S., but rather based on conduct or its effects in the U.S.

Despite the passage of time, no court reached the question of how to interpret and apply this Dodd-Frank provision in light of the Morrison decision – until now. In a detailed March 28, 2017 decision (here), District of Utah Judge Jill N. Parrish held, notwithstanding Morrison and in reliance on the Dodd-Frank Act provision, that the SEC may bring an enforcement action based on transactions outside the U.S. and involving non-U.S. residents if there was sufficient conduct in the U.S. The ruling potentially has important implications for U.S. regulatory authorities’ reach for securities enforcement actions involving foreign actors or non-U.S. transactions.
Continue Reading U.S. Securities Enforcement Authorities’ Extraterritorial Reach Under Morrison, Dodd-Frank Act

sarah good
Sarah A. Good
laura hurtado
Laura C. Hurtado

One of the recurring questions in the securities regulatory enforcement arena has been the question of whether or not the Securities and Exchange Commission’s use of administrative law judges violates the U.S. Constitution. As discussed in the following guest post from Sarah A. Good and Laura C. Hurtado of the Pillsbury law firm, the Tenth Circuit, in direct conflict with a prior decision from the D.C. Circuit, recently held that the SEC’s appointment of administrative law judge’s violates the constitution. The circuit split suggests that this issue may be on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I would like to thank Sarah and Laura for their willingness to allow me to publish their article as a guest post. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Sarah and Laura’s guest post.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Constitutionality of SEC’s ALJs Headed to Supreme Court?

business reportWhen Congress enacted stiff executive compensation clawbacks as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the assumption was that the adoption of these kinds of measures would reduce the number of corporate restatements and increase investor confidence in financial reports. However, a new study focused on companies that have adopted clawback measures suggests that these gains may