The SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower received a record 6,911 whistleblower tips during FY 2020, which ended September 30, 2020. The nearly 7,000 reports represent a nearly 33% increase over the number of tips received during the prior fiscal year, according to the Office’s recently released annual report. The Office also made awards representing a record high annual dollar value and to a record annual number of individual award recipients during the fiscal year.  A copy of the November 16, 2020 report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC: Record Number of Whistleblower Tips and Awards During FY 2020

As I noted at the time, earlier this month the SEC released its enforcement activity report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. While the report fully detailed the agency’s enforcement activity, the report did not break out statistics reflecting the SEC’s actions against publicly traded companies. A November 18, 2020 report from Cornerstone Research, written in collaboration with the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business, entitled “SEC Enforcement Activity: Public Companies and Subsidiaries Fiscal Year 2020 Update” (here), takes a detailed look at SEC enforcement activity involving publicly traded companies and their subsidiaries during FY 2020.

As was the case with enforcement activity overall, enforcement activity involving publicly traded companies declined during FY 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, but after a sharp drop in activity during the first half of the fiscal year, enforcement activity rebounded toward the end of the second half. The agency’s $1.6 billion in public company monetary settlements slightly exceeded the equivalent figures for FY 2019. Cornerstone Research’s November 18, 2020 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Public Company Enforcement Actions Decreased in FY 2020, But Recoveries Increased

Now that the Presidential election has been called for Joe Biden, it is time to start asking what a Biden Presidency may mean, including in particular what SEC enforcement and regulatory activity might look like under a Biden Administration. As discussed below, the likelihood is that we will see a more active SEC enforcement division and a shift back toward a more active regulatory approach.
Continue Reading What Does the Biden Victory Mean for the SEC?

Fines and other recoveries in SEC enforcement action hit record levels during the agency’s fiscal year ended September 30, 2020, even as pandemic-related work closures dampened the number of enforcement actions the agency was able to file, according to the SEC Enforcement Division’s annual report released Monday. The SEC scored a record total of $4.6 billion in recoveries, largely as a result of big fines and disgorgements in a few large matters, while the 405 new standalone enforcement actions the agency filed was the lowest number in six years. The Enforcement Division’s annual report can be found here. The agency’s November 2, 2020 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading Despite COVID-19 Disruptions, SEC Recoveries at Record Levels in FY 2020

It was only this past June when the SEC made what was at the time the largest ever whistleblower award — $50 million – to a single individual. As it has turned out, that record stood for only a short time, as on October 22, 2020, the SEC shattered the prior record, paying out a whopping whistleblower bounty of $114 million to a single individual. The SEC’s award order is heavily redacted to protect the identity of the whistleblower so relatively is known about the circumstances surrounding the award, but even so the sheer size of the award makes a serious statement. The SEC’s October 22, 2020 award order can be found here. The SEC’s October 22, 20202 press release about the award can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Awards Largest-Ever Whistleblower Bounty of $114 Million

David H. Topol

In the following guest post, David H. Topol of the Wiley law firm takes a look at the recent decision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to amend the agency’s operative definition of the term “accredited investor.” A copy of the agency’s final rule incorporating the revised definition can be found here. The agency’s August 26, 2020 press release about the change can be found here. 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: SEC Definition of “Accredited Investor”: A Step Forward or Backward?

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 prior enforcement actions the agency filed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the SEC has made it clear that it intends to target companies and individuals that are seeking to secure gains by misrepresenting to investors the companies’ ability to profit from the pandemic. On June 9, 2020, the SEC filed what is the latest of these pandemic-related enforcement actions. In its complaint, the agency alleges that a penny stock trader engaged in a fraudulent pump-and-dump scheme involving the stock of a biotechnology company. The SEC alleges he drove the company’s share price by making hundreds of false statements about the company in an online forum, and then after the company’s share price rose, he sold his stock for significant profits.
Continue Reading SEC Files Enforcement Action Based on Alleged COVID-19 Pump-and-Dump Scheme

In the following guest post, Jay Knight, Taylor Wirth and Chris Johnson of the Bass, Berry & Sims law firm review the key developments at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during 2019, and consider what to expect in the months ahead. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on my 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: 7 Key SEC Developments in 2019

Paul A. Ferrillo

In the following guest post, Paul A. Ferrillo takes a look at the recent findings that the SEC Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations issue with respect to its cybersecurity examinations of registered investment advisers and broker dealers. The findings, Paul suggests, provides good guidance from a number of perspectives with regard to cybersecurity governance issues. Paul is a partner with McDermott, Will & Emery. I would like to thank Paul 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 Paul’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Avoiding Event Driven Litigation through Good Cybersecurity Governance