Earlier this week, CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) intended to enable greater enforcement coordination and information sharing between the CFTC and state securities agencies.  The MOU formalizes a process for exchange of information and coordination between the CFTC, which has jurisdiction over the commodities and swaps markets, and state securities regulators and enforcers.  It continues the trend of increasing prominence of the CFTC’s enforcement division, and further reinforces connections with state authorities to promote cross-jurisdictional cooperation and coordinated enforcement action.  While the impact of the MOU remains to be seen, it is hoped that it will facilitate more coordinated and efficient enforcement proceedings in cases involving the CFTC.  At the same time, the provisions for information sharing reinforce the prudence of assuming that enforcement authorities speak to each other.  Therefore, companies facing possible investigations should ensure information provided to all relevant authorities is accurate and complete, and in appropriate cases may consider actively involving state securities agencies early on in order to potentially facilitate a later joint resolution. Continue Reading CFTC Chairman Announces Formal Cooperation Agreement With State Securities Agencies

The Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (together, the “Regulators”) have jointly fined Barclays’ CEO, Jes Staley, a total of £642,430. The fine was imposed for Mr Staley’s repeated attempts to uncover the identity of an anonymous whistleblower, which constituted a failure to act with the due skill, care and diligence the Regulators expect from a CEO. The case was observed with interest as the first brought by financial regulators under the UK’s Senior Managers Regime. The Regulators chose not to impose more severe sanctions (which could have involved the removal of Mr Staley from his role) after failing to find that Mr Staley was guilty of any deliberate wrongdoing. Continue Reading UK Regulators Fine Barclays’ CEO for Errors of Judgement in Relation to Whistleblower

On May 9, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein provided remarks at the American Conference Institute’s 20th Anniversary New York Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and announced a new policy designed to promote coordination and limit the imposition of multiple penalties on a company for the same conduct, which he referred to as “piling on.”

This memorandum highlights some of the most salient points from Rosenstein’s remarks, and describes the key elements of the new policy, with an eye towards potential implications for enforcement actions going forward.

On May 3, the Second Circuit vacated on evidentiary grounds Jesse Litvak’s conviction – after a second trial – on a single count of securities fraud related to trades of residential mortgage backed securities (“RMBS”) and remanded the case to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.[1]  This ruling is the latest setback for the government, as the Second Circuit in 2015 had vacated Litvak’s prior conviction on ten counts of securities fraud, one count of fraud against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”), and four counts of making false statements to the government, following his first trial.[2] Continue Reading Second Circuit Again Reverses Fraud Conviction of RMBS Trader Litvak

On April 23rd, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive on the protection of whistleblowers reporting breaches of Union Law.[1]

The proposal sets out minimum standards of protection for whistleblowers against retaliation when they report breaches in specific policy areas.  The proposal is premised on the view that the lack of a common, effective approach to whistleblower protection across Member States can impair the enforcement of European law.[2] Continue Reading The European Commission Proposes new Rules to Strengthen Whistleblower Protection

On April 18, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) proposed Regulation Best Interest under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to establish a new “best interest” standard of conduct for broker-dealers when making a recommendation of any transaction or investment strategy involving securities to a retail customer. The SEC also proposed an interpretation to reiterate and clarify the fiduciary duty applicable to investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Finally, the SEC proposed a new disclosure form for investment advisers and broker-dealers to provide to retail investors.

In proposing the new Regulation Best Interest and the Guidance, the SEC has attempted to more closely align the standards of conduct applicable to broker-dealers and investment advisers while recognizing the fundamental differences between the services each provides and maintaining investor choice.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

On April 25, 2018, a jury in the United States District Court in Connecticut acquitted former UBS AG (“UBS”) trader Andre Flotron of conspiring to manipulate the precious metals futures market through “spoofing.”  The verdict, the first acquittal in a criminal spoofing-related case since the practice was outlawed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) in 2010, reflects the difficulties the government faces in cracking down on the practice. Continue Reading Acquittal of Former UBS Trader Signals Potential Challenges for Government’s Anti-Spoofing Initiative

On April 24, 2018, Altaba, formerly known as Yahoo, entered into a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), pursuant to which Altaba agreed to pay $35 million to resolve allegations that Yahoo violated federal securities laws in connection with the disclosure of the 2014 data breach of its user database.  The case represents the first time a public company has been charged by the SEC for failing to adequately disclose a cyber breach, an area that is expected to face continued heightened scrutiny as enforcement authorities and the public are increasingly focused on the actions taken by companies in response to such incidents.  Altaba’s settlement with the SEC, coming on the heels of its agreement to pay $80 million to civil class action plaintiffs alleging similar disclosure violations, underscores the increasing potential legal exposure for companies based on failing to properly disclose cybersecurity risks and incidents.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

On April 18, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Lagos v. United States.  Lagos presents the important issue of whether a corporate victim’s professional costs—such as investigatory and legal expenses—incurred as a result of a criminal defendant’s offense conduct must be reimbursed under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act.

The court’s decision will impact a company’s considerations when deciding whether and how to conduct an internal investigation, particularly when the corporation is the potential victim of a crime.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

On March 27, 2018, the Canadian Government announced the introduction of legislative amendments to bring deferred prosecution agreements (“DPA”) to Canada.  The legislation, which would create the “Remediation Agreement Regime” (“RAR”), follows a global trend.  In recent years, DPA regimes have been introduced in the U.K. and France, and considered in a variety of other common law jurisdictions including Singapore and Australia.  Although broadly patterned on an approach pioneered in the United States, like the statutory enactments in other countries adopted more recently, the Canadian RAR regime is likely to be considerably more structured and involve much more substantive judicial supervision. Continue Reading Canada Proposes New Deferred Prosecution Agreement Program