In Securities & Exchange Commission v. Govil, No. 22-1658, 2023 WL 7137291 (2d Cir. Oct. 31, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dealt a setback to the enforcement agenda of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) by limiting its ability to seek disgorgement under 15 U.S.C. § 78u(d)(5) and (7) to situations in which the regulator can demonstrate investors have suffered pecuniary harm.Continue Reading Second Circuit Reins in SEC Disgorgement Powers

On September 29, 2023, Albemarle Corporation (“Albemarle”), a global chemical manufacturer, reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to resolve investigations into violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). This settlement is the culmination of a five-year investigation stemming from bribe payments made by Albemarle’s third-party sales representatives and employees of a subsidiary to government officials in Vietnam, Indonesia, and India to obtain government contracts in the chemical catalyst business between 2009 and 2017.Continue Reading Albermarle Agrees to Pay $218 Million to Settle Foreign Bribery Probe

On August 28, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) instituted cease-and-desist proceedings under Section 8A of the Securities Act against Impact Theory, a Los Angeles media and entertainment company, alleging that the company’s sale of non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) violated the registration requirements under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Act”). Continue Reading The SEC’s Sudden Impact on NFTs

Over the last several years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) have been laser-focused on the use of so called “off-channel communications” in the financial services industry. On the theory that employees’ use of personal devices to communicate about business matters violates the “books and records” rules as these communications are not saved in company systems, regulators have conducted intrusive and extensive investigations requiring employees to turn over their personal devices for review. SEC Chairperson Gary Gensler recently stated that “bookkeeping sweeps are ongoing,” having resulted in well over $1 billion in fines so far. While the first round of investigations focused on the large banks, this “sweep” has since spread to hedge funds, credit rating agencies, online banking platforms, and now, to regional banks.Continue Reading SEC Off-Channel Communications Sweep

Over the last year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has been laser-focused on the use of personal devices by employees of the large Wall Street banks to conduct company business. The SEC’s investigations have focused on whether the banks complied with the “books and records” requirement that they preserve all communications that relate to Company business. The SEC has asserted that certain “off-channel” business communications not captured in company systems run afoul of this basic record keeping requirement. Not surprisingly, during the pandemic and with the increase in remote work, the SEC has determined that violations have been widespread. Continue Reading SEC Shifts Focus on Employees’ Off-Channel Business Communications to Investment Advisers

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has implications for whistleblowers under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act” or “The Act”). In Hong v. SEC, No. 21-529 (2d Cir. July 21, 2022), the Court held that a person who provides the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) with information about potential securities laws violations is entitled to receive a whistleblower award under Section 21F of the Securities Exchange Act (15 U.S.C. § 78u-6)if the SEC itself brings a qualifying action, but not when the SEC shares the whistleblower’s information to other agencies who then bring an action in partial reliance upon it. The decision sets definitive limits on the reach of the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower incentives and may affect the calculus for individuals considering whether to risk their personal and professional careers to come forward with information of wrongdoing.Continue Reading Second Circuit Limits Scope of SEC Whistleblower Incentives