On September 10, 2020, the Division of Enforcement (“Division”) of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) released guidance (“CFTC Guidance”) outlining factors the Division will consider when evaluating compliance programs in connection with enforcement actions. The CFTC Guidance ties into guidance released by the Division in May directing staff to consider an entity’s compliance program
Breon S. Peace
Breon S. Peace’s practice focuses on white-collar defense, regulatory enforcement matters and complex civil litigation.
Supreme Court Upholds, with Limits, the SEC’s Authority to Seek Disgorgement
On June 22, 2020, the Supreme Court held in Liu v. SEC that the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) may seek, and courts have the power to grant, disgorgement as an equitable remedy for violations of the securities laws. However, the Court also placed potentially important limitations on disgorgement, holding that—to qualify as an equitable…
SEC and CFTC Chairs Sign Enhanced Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding Expanding Cross-Border Enforcement Cooperation
On May 15, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) announced that they entered into an Enhanced Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Consultation and the Exchange of Information (“Enhanced MMoU”) under the auspices of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (“IOSCO”), along with nine other international financial regulators. Both the SEC and CFTC are already signatories to IOSCO’s predecessor memorandum of understanding with 121 other signatories. However, the Enhanced MMoU provides for significant enhancements in cross-border enforcement cooperation—including the ability to compel testimony outside of the United States—that, if widely adopted, could increase the signatory regulators’ abilities to undertake (and coordinate) multilateral cross-border investigations.
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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Longer Time Limits for Non-intervened FCA Actions
On May 13, 2019, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt with respect to the applicable statute of limitations in a FCA action in which the Government has declined to intervene. The FCA sets forth two limitation periods applicable to FCA actions and provides that an action must be brought within the longer of either (i) within 6 years after the date on which the violation occurred; or (ii) within three years of the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by a relevant official of the United States. In no event may an action be brought more than 10 years after the date on which the violation was committed. The issues in Cochise Consultancy were whether the second, alternative, limitations period applies to an action in which the government has intervened and whether, if so, the relevant official includes the private relator. These issues are important because, if the longer period applies, a relator can bring an action long after (and more than 3 years after) she learned of the FCA violation.
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CFTC Division of Enforcement Releases First Public Enforcement Manual
On May 8, 2019, the Division of Enforcement of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released an Enforcement Manual – the first public document of its kind from the Division.
Though the Manual does not reveal any significant shifts in policy, it will undoubtedly serve as an important resource for individuals and entities dealing with CFTC…
DOJ Issues Guidance on Cooperation In False Claims Act Investigations
On May 7, 2019, the Department of Justice issued formal guidance to DOJ’s False Claims Act litigators on the circumstances in which DOJ will grant credit for cooperation during FCA investigations.
The guidance explains the factors that DOJ considers in determining whether to award cooperation credit in FCA investigations and the types of credit available.…
SDNY Judge Finds Government “Outsourcing” of Investigation to External Counsel Runs Afoul of Fifth Amendment
On May 2, 2019, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an important decision delineating the boundaries between conducting a proper internal investigation and acting as an arm of the government.
For the government, the consequences of “outsourcing” an investigation to a company and its counsel could be exclusion…
CFTC Announces Two Significant Awards by Whistleblower Program
On July 12 and 16, 2018, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) announced two awards to whistleblowers, one its largest-ever award, approximately $30 million, and another its first award to a whistleblower living in a foreign country. These awards—along with recent proposed changes meant to bolster the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC” or “Commission”) own whistleblower regime—demonstrate that such programs likely will continue to be significant parts of the enforcement programs of both agencies and necessarily help shape their enforcement agendas in the coming years.
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Recent Settlement Highlights Cooperation Parameters Under the Department of Justice’s FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy
Yesterday the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a non-prosecution agreement (“NPA”) with a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Credit Suisse Group AG arising out of the so-called “princelings” scandals of recent years—the practice of hiring unqualified, but politically-connected, relatives of Chinese officials to garner business from state-owned firms. Per Credit Suisse’s admissions, “bankers discussed and approved the hiring of close friends and family of Chinese officials in order to secure business,” resulting in $46 million “in profits from business mandates with Chinese” state-owned enterprises. As part of the resolution, Credit Suisse agreed to a $47 million criminal penalty, to continue to cooperate with DOJ, and to enhance its compliance program, including adopting additional controls around hiring. In addition, Credit Suisse agreed to pay nearly $25 million in disgorgement and $4.8 million in prejudgment interest to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). In its press release, DOJ stated that it was giving Credit Suisse a 15 percent discount from the bottom end of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for its cooperation in the investigation, while also (as discussed more below) noting steps the firm did not take that worked to limit the amount of such cooperation credit. While this is hardly the first of the “princelings” cases, it does demonstrate DOJ’s continued commitment to the cooperation framework it laid out in its FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (“Enforcement Policy”) late last year.
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DOJ Releases FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy
On November 29, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ” or the “Department”) announced a new FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (the “Enforcement Policy”) applicable to investigations of companies under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). The Enforcement Policy builds on the FCPA Pilot Program (the “Pilot Program”) that has been in effect since April 2016,…