As I have documented on this site, many COVID-related securities suits have been filed since the initial outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020. At the core of many of these lawsuits are corporate claims that the defendant companies were positioned to profit from the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Justice now reports that a biotech executive has pleaded guilty to securities fraud and other charges in connection with his company’s false claims at the outset of the pandemic that it had developed a new blood-based test for COVID-19. A copy of the Department of Justice’s December 8, 2023, press release about the guilty plea can be found here.Continue Reading Biotech Exec Pleads Guilty to COVID-Related Securities Fraud
On February 8, 2023, the Securities Litigation Committee of the New York City Bar will be hosting a daylong webinar entitled Securities Litigation Enforcement Institute 2023. The webinar will be co-chaired by Greg Markel of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm and Brad Karp of the Paul Weiss law firm. This institute will consist of a…
As I have noted on this site, the SEC has in recent months filed SPAC-related enforcement actions, including the action filed in July 2021 against Stable Road Acquisition Corporation (discussed here), and the Y, 2021 action filed against Nikola Motors founder Chad Milton (discussed here). These matters were not, however, the first SPAC-related SEC enforcement actions; there have been others previously, including the September 2020 SPAC-related enforcement action against music streaming company Akazoo, S.A. In something of a milestone regarding SPAC-related actions, on October 27, 2021, the SEC announced that it had reached a settlement of the Akazoo enforcement action. The SEC’s October 27, 2021 press release about the settlement can be found here. The October 27, 2021 Agreed Final Judgment in the Enforcement Action can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Enters Settlement in SPAC-Related Enforcement Action Against Akazoo
In a series of statements, comments, and staff actions, the SEC has in recent months evinced a growing concern with SPAC-related activities in the financial marketplace. The agency has now brought its first SPAC-related enforcement action (at least during the current era) against Momentus, Inc., a SPAC-merger target; Stable Road Acquisition Corp., the SPAC itself; and several other participants involved in the SPAC transaction, including the SPAC sponsor. This proceeding may be the first of many. The SEC’s July 13, 2021 press release about the proceedings can be found here. The SEC’s administrative order instituting cease-and-desist proceedings can be found here. The SEC’s separate civil action complaint against the CEO of the merger target can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Charges SPAC, Merger Target, and Others with Securities Law Violations
In recent years, the SEC has established itself as an active cryptocurrency enforcement agency, according to a new report from Cornerstone Research. The report, entitled “SEC Cryptocurrency Enforcement: Q3 2013 – Q4 2020,” details that between July 2013 and year end 2020, the agency initiated a total of 75 enforcement actions and 19 trading suspension orders against respondents involved with digital assets. The report also shows that the agency’s cryptocurrency activity has steadily increased throughout the 2013-2020 period. A copy of the report can be found here. Cornerstone Research’s May 11, 2021 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Establishes its Cryptocurrency Enforcement Credentials
In a March 2021 paper entitled “Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance” (here), the UK government set out a number of proposed reforms in order to try to increase trust in corporate governance, including, among other things, proposed new company reporting requirements. In the following guest post, Andrew Milne discusses the potential implications for UK directors from the reform proposals under consideration. Andrew is a Senior Associate at the CMS law firm, and a co-author of the UK Chapter in Directors’ Liability and Indemnification. I would like to thank Andrew 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 Andrew’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: UK Sarbanes Oxley?
President Biden’s nominee to head the SEC, Gary Gensler, faced a grilling today before the U.S Senate banking committee as his nomination proceeds through Congress. Although the outcome of his nomination technically remains uncertain, his eventual confirmation seems likely. With that possibility in mind, it seems timely to look ahead at some of the issues the agency may address and initiatives the agency may advance under the new administration. As it is, because of some initiatives that already underway, it is possible to project where we might be headed, at least to a certain extent.
Continue Reading What’s Ahead at the SEC?
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?
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