Securities enforcement

Driven in significant part by the new actions filed as part of the SEC’s Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative, the number of SEC enforcement actions against public companies and subsidiaries remained at “near-record levels” in the first half of fiscal year 2018, according to a recent report. The report, published by Cornerstone Research in collaboration with the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business and entitled “SEC Enforcement Activity: Public Companies and Subsidiaries Midyear FY 2019 Update,” states that the enforcement activity levels in the first half of FY 2019 continued “a resurgence of activity that began in the second half of FY 2018.” The report can be found here. A May 15, 2019 press release describing the report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Public Company Enforcement Activity Remained Near Record Levels in FY2019’s First Half

Although it is not always appreciated or taken into account, the fact is that executives of private companies can be held liable for statements or other actions made in violation of the federal securities laws. One very recent and high-profile example where this happened involved the SEC enforcement action (and subsequent criminal proceedings) involving the high-profile medical testing company Theranos. Recent SEC and Department of Justice actions involving an Indiana-based company underscores the fact that private companies can draw the attention of federal securities regulator, and that it is not just high profile Silicon Valley firms that are potentially at risk.
Continue Reading Just a Reminder: Private Company Executives Can Be Held Liable Under the Federal Securities Laws

John Reed Stark

On November 29, 2018, the SEC announced that it had settled charges with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and music producer DJ Khaled for failing to disclose payments they received for promoting investments in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). In the following guest post, John Reed Stark, the President of John Reed Stark Consulting and former Chief of the SEC’s Office of Internet Enforcement, takes a look at the SEC’s actions against Mayweather and Khaled and identifies some important takeaways from the SEC’s orders. I would like to thank John for his willingness to allow me to publish his article 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 article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Five Hidden Takeaways from the Khaled and Mayweather SEC Orders

John Reed Stark

Most readers are undoubtedly familiar with the concept of “insider trading” – that is, the purchase or sale by company insiders of their personal holdings in company shares based on material non-public information. Readers may be less familiar with “outsider trading,” which is trading in shares of a company on the basis on material non-public information by individuals who do not qualify as insiders. 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 at the SEC’s track record in this area and calls for the agency to reinforce its efforts to police outsider trading. A version of this article previously appeared on Securities 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 article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: The SEC’s Outsider Trading Program: The Silence is Deafening

This past year was an eventful one in the corporate and securities litigation arena. In the following guest post, Haynes and Boone, LLP Partners Dan Gold, Kit Addleman, Thad Behrens, Emily Westridge Black, Carrie Huff, Tim Newman, David Siegal, and Odean Volker take a look at the important securities litigation developments during 2017. This article was previously published as a Haynes and Boone client alert. I would like to thank the authors for their willingness to publish their memorandum on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to readers of this site. Please contact me directly if you are interested in submitting a guest post. Here is the authors’ guest post.
Continue Reading Guest Post: 2017 Year in Review — Securities Litigation

John Reed Stark

As many readers undoubtedly are aware, the prices for bitcoin has plunged in recent days, from a peak of nearly $20,000 in December to approximately $8,300 more recently, representing a decline of nearly 60%. The prices for other cryptocurrencies have also fallen along the same order of magnitude. This dramatic decline certainly at least raises the question of whether or not the pricing bubble for cryptocurrencies that fueled the recent wave of initial coin offerings (ICOs) has burst – or at least, is about to burst. 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, suggests that the bursting of the ICO bubble may be exactly what the financial marketplace needs for the long haul. I would like to thank John for his willingness to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest for 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 Guest Post: The Benefit of an ICO Bubble Burst

Many readers may have noted SEC Jay Clayton’s January 22, 2018 speech about his agency’s scrutiny of cryptocurrencies, as well as the January 24, 2018 opinion piece Clayton wrote in the Wall Street Journal along with his counterpart from the CFTC, J. Christopher Giancarlo. In both statements, Clayton made in clear that the SEC intends to hold gatekeepers to account for their activities in connection with ICOs and cryptocurrencies. 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 at the SEC’s cryptocurrency related focus on gatekeeper liability. I would like to thank John for his willingness 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 Guest Post: Beware ICO Lawyers: As Regulatory Gatekeepers, You’re the Next SEC Target

According to the latest update on the Coinschedule website (here), there have been a total of 228 initial coin offerings so far this year through mid-October, raising a total of over $3.6 billion. At least five of this year’s ICOs have raised over $100 million. This burgeoning activity notwithstanding, ICOs are at the center of controversy. Among other things, China and South Korea have banned ICOs. The SEC has already shown its willingness to pursue enforcement actions against ICO sponsors, as discussed further here. And now a high-profile statement by one of the country’s leading securities regulation experts suggests even greater scrutiny may lie ahead. In the meantime, as discussed below, ICO and cryptocurrency-related litigation appears to be proliferating.
Continue Reading ICO Enforcement Actions Threatened, ICO Lawsuits Proliferate

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

Blair Nicholas
David Kaplan

Among the many concerns in the early days of the new Presidency is the question of what we can expect from the SEC in the new administration. In the following guest post, Blair Nicholas and David Kaplan of the Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman law firm advocate that the SEC take an aggressive approach to securities enforcement, and they have a specific proposal to advance that approach. A version of this article previously appeared in the National Law Journal. I would like to thank Blair and David for their willingness to publish their article 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 Blair and David’s guest post.
Continue Reading Guest Post: President Trump, Let’s Strengthen the SEC