The number of SEC and PCAOB accounting and auditing enforcement actions decreased in 2020 relative to 2019, but monetary settlements increased year-over year, according to a recent report from Cornerstone Research. The report, entitled “Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Activity – 2020 Review and Analysis” (here), analyzes the agencies’ publicly disclosed accounting and auditing enforcement actions between 2015 and 2020. Cornerstone Research’s April 27, 2021 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Actions Down in 2020 While Total Settlements Increased

In what is, according to the SEC itself, the second-largest whistleblower award in the history of the agency’s whistleblower program, the SEC has awarded two joint whistleblowers a bounty of over $50 million. The agency’s order making the award is heavily redacted, in order to protect the whistleblowers’ identities, so it is hard to tell very much about the circumstances surrounding the award. But the award is the latest in what has been a recent flurry of very large whistleblower awards by the agency. The SEC’s April 15, 2021 press release announcing the award can be found here. The April 15, 2021 award order can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Awards Second-Largest Ever Whistleblower Bounty

Anyone reading the business pages know that SPAC IPO activity continues to surge; indeed, we have not yet even officially completed 2021’s first quarter, yet the number of SPAC IPOs completed and the amount of funding raised have both already exceeded the totals for the full year 2020. As I have already noted in prior posts on this site, all of this SPAC activity has already attracted some legal action. At the end of the last week, there were further signs that the legal activity could be about to pick up. As discussed below, news reports circulated late last week that the SEC has sent informal inquiries to Wall Street banks concerning SPACs, and, as also discussed below, a plaintiff shareholder has initiated a class action lawsuit against the directors and officers of a SPAC, among others, in Delaware Chancery Court presenting some alternative liability theories.
Continue Reading Is SPAC-Related Legal Action About to Heat Up?

Suresh Ellawala

As many readers may have noted at the time, in December the SEC filed an enforcement action against Ripple Labs and two of its executives in connection with what the SEC described as the company’s unregistered offering of securities, relating to the company’s sale of digital asset units between 2013 and the time of the filing of the enforcement complaint. In the following guest post, Suresh Ellawala takes a closer look at the issues that the SEC’s enforcement action presents. Suresh is Head of Commercial Financial Lines at Price Forbes & Partners. I would like to thank Suresh for allowing 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 Suresh’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: The Ripple Effect – Are Cryptocurrency Tokens Securities, and Why Does it Matter?

David H. Topol

In the following guest post, David H. Topol of the Wiley law firm reviews the important legal and regulatory developments affecting private investment funds during 2020. I would like to thank David for allowing 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 David’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Private Investment Funds: Major Developments from 2020

In the latest coronavirus outbreak-related securities suit, a Canadian diagnostic medical testing company that hoped to obtain emergency regulatory authorization for its rapid COVID-19 antigen test has been hit with a securities class action lawsuit after the company failed to obtain the regulatory approvals. A copy of the plaintiff’s complaint, filed on December 17, 2020 in the Central District of California, can be found here. In addition, as discussed below, this past week, the SEC separately filed a coronavirus-related enforcement action against a biotechnology company that touted its ability to provide a blood-based diagnostic test for the coronavirus.
Continue Reading Canadian Testing Company Hit with COVID-19-Related Securities Suit

On December 4, 2020, in what is according to the SEC its first proceeding charging an issuer for misleading investors about the financial effects of the pandemic on company finances and operations, the SEC entered into a settled Cease and Desist Order with The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated based on the agency’s determinations that the company’s late March and early April statements that it was “operating sustainably” were, without further information, misleading to investors.  The SEC’s December 4, 2020 Cease-and-Desist Order can be found  here, and the agency’s December 4, 2020 press release about the Order can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Charges Cheesecake Factory Over Misleading COVID-Related Disclosures

In the latest SEC enforcement action relating to alleged misrepresentations pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak, the agency has filed a securities fraud action against the President and Chief Science Officer of a biotechnology company who allegedly made false statements to investors concerning the status of his company’s COVID-19 test. The enforcement action complaint also contains allegations concerning the individual’s statements about the status of his company’s delinquent SEC reporting. The enforcement action underscores the fact that the SEC intends to enforce the securities laws with respect to company statements falsely suggesting the company is in a position to profit from the coronavirus outbreak. A copy of the SEC’s September 25, 2020 complaint can be found here. The SEC’s September 25, 2020 press release regarding the enforcement action can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Files COVID-19-Related Enforcement Action Against Biotech Company Exec

As noted in a prior post, on June 22, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court entered its opinion in Liu v. SEC, in which the Court addressed a number of questions surrounding the SEC’s authority to seek disgorgement. In the following guest post, Stephen Cutler, Michael Osnato, Meaghan Kelly and M Moore of the Simpson Thacher law firm take a closer look at the Court’s opinion and consider its implications. 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: Supreme Court Affirms SEC’s Disgorgement Remedy, but Places Limits on Its Use