Neil J. Cohen

One of the hot topics in securities regulation and enforcement has been the question of what position the SEC will take with respect to cryptocurrencies. In the following guest post written in the form of a one-scene play, Neil J. Cohen, a lawyer and publisher of the Securities Reform Act Litigation Reporter, imagines a fictional conversation involving an SEC official discussing cryptocurrencies. I would like to thank Neil for submitting his play to be a guest post on this site – this is the first play that has appeared 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 Neil’s play.
Continue Reading

It is a point I have made before but it is worth saying again – private companies are not immune from scrutiny under the federal securities laws. In a series of recent enforcement actions – most notably the SEC’s March 2018 enforcement action against Theranos and two of its executives – the SEC has made of point of emphasizing that its regulatory reach extends to private companies. Last week, the SEC announced the resolution of another enforcement action against private company executives. The latest action, involving a failed Silicon Valley start-up, underscores the SEC’s readiness to pursue securities law violations by private company executives.
Continue Reading

In its 2011 decision in the Janus Group case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that one who does not “make” a false statement cannot be held liable under section (b) of Rule 10b-5. In an enforcement action brought against him by the SEC, the defendant, Francis Lorenzo, argued that under the Janus case, he could not be held liable under the securities laws for forwarding a misleading email his boss had written because he did not “make” the false statement. The case ultimately made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On March 27, 2019, the Court found that even if Lorenzo could not be held liable under section (b) of the Rule because he did not “make” the statement, he could still be held liable under the scheme liability provisions in sections (a) and (c) of the Rule for disseminating the  document. The Court’s March 27, 2019 opinion in Lorenzo v. Securities and Exchange Commission can be found here.
Continue Reading

The number of SEC enforcement actions against public companies and their subsidiaries declined in the first half of FY 2018 compared to the comparable year prior period, continuing a sharp downward trend that began in the second half of FY 2017 and falling to the lowest level in years, according to a new report from Cornerstone Research, written in collaboration with the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business. Monetary settlements during the first half of fiscal 2018 also fell to their lowest level in years. The report, entitled “SEC Enforcement Activity: Public Companies and Subsidiaries, Midyear FY 2018 Update” (here), reports on SEC enforcement activity involving public companies and their subsidiaries for the first half of fiscal 2018, which ended March 31, 2018. Cornerstone Report’s May 15, 2018 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading

Among the many problems that have come to light in the current cryptocurrency craze have been problems relating to celebrity endorsements for initial coin offerings (ICO). In the following guest post, John Reed Stark, President of John Reed Stark Consulting and former Chief of the SEC’s Office of Internet Enforcement, reviews the highest profile examples of cryptocurrency celebrity endorsements, and then proposes a list of cryptocurrency caveats, for celebrities and for everyone else as well. A version of this article originally appeared on Cybersecurity Docket. I would like to thank John for his willingness to allow me to publish his 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 John’s guest post.
Continue Reading

Many readers undoubtedly saw the news last week of the enforcement action the SEC filed against Theranos, Inc., its founder, Chairman, and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, and its President and COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. Theranos and Holmes have settled with the agency, although the complaint against Balwani apparently will be going forward. The SEC’s action is interesting at many levels, and it has several important implications that should not be overlooked. The SEC’s March 14, 2018 press release about the charges can be found here. The SEC’s complaint against Thernos and Holmes can be found here. The SEC’s separately complaint against Balwani can be found here.
Continue Reading

Britt Latham
Brian Irving

In the following guest post, Britt K. Latham and Brian Irving of the  Bass, Berry & Sims PLC  law firm take a look at the SEC’s enforcement action track record under the Trump administration and take a look ahead at what may be next for the agency. I would like to thank Britt and Brian 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 blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Britt and Brian’s article.
Continue Reading

John Reed Stark

One of the most interesting and arresting business stories of 2017 has been the astonishing proliferation of initial coin offerings (ICOs), as I discussed in a prior post (here). Readers who have been watching this story develop undoubtedly are aware that things have been moving very quickly recently on the regulatory front with respect to ICOs. ICOs suddenly are facing a very different regulatory environment. In the following guest post, John Reed Stark, President of John Reed Stark Consulting and former Chief of the SEC’s Office of Internet Enforcement, takes a look the recent regulatory developments and examines their implications. A version of this article originally appeared on Securities Docket. I would like to thank John for his willingness to allow me to publish his guest post on this site. 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 John’s guest post.
Continue Reading

On November 15, 2017, when the SEC Enforcement Division released its annual report detailing its enforcement activity during the preceding fiscal year, the report included a statement by the division’s co-directors detailing the division’s priorities for the coming year. As detailed below, the enforcement statistics in the report clearly reflect an agency in transition. The changes under the new administration are particularly apparent with regard to the agency’s enforcement activities involving publicly traded companies. The Enforcement Division’s annual report can be found here. The division’s November 15, 2017 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading