On September 1, 2023, U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen of the Eastern District of New York granted a judgment of acquittal in the latest FIFA bribery prosecution, holding that the federal honest services statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1346, does not cover foreign commercial bribery in light of recent Supreme Court precedent.Continue Reading U.S. District Court Tosses FIFA Bribery Convictions, Finding Honest Services Statute Does Not Reach Foreign Commercial Bribery
Matthew C. Solomon has significant experience in complex and high-stakes civil and criminal matters, having served for 15 years with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission—including most recently as the SEC’s Chief Litigation Counsel.
On March 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission announced insider trading charges against Terren Peizer, the CEO and Chairman of a California-based healthcare services company called Ontrak, Inc. (the “Company”) for allegedly selling Company securities while in possession of material, non-public information (“MNPI”) that one of the Company’s major customers was likely to cancel its contract. Continue Reading DOJ and SEC Charge Healthcare Executive With Insider Trading Through a Rule 10b5-1 Trading Plan, Marking DOJ’s First Such Indictment
The following post was originally included as part of our recently published memorandum “Selected Issues for Boards of Directors in 2023”.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) ramped up their enforcement efforts in 2022, often in highly coordinated actions, including with other regulatory agencies such as the Commodity…
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced the Division of Enforcement’s results for fiscal year 2022, the first full year for the Division under the leadership of both Chair Gary Gensler and Director of Enforcement Gurbir Grewal.
Results were up from the year before, with a record $4.2 billion in civil penalties reflecting the…
On September 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced settled insider trading charges against the CEO and the former President and Chief Technology Officer of Cheetah Mobile Inc. (the “Company”), a China-based mobile internet company. The executives allegedly possessed material nonpublic information (“MNPI”) when they set up a trading plan under Rule 10b5-1 of the Securities Exchange Act.
Continue Reading SEC Charges Company Executives with Insider Trading for Allegedly Setting Up 10b5-1 Trading Plan While in Possession of MNPI
On June 8, 2022, the SEC announced a notable settlement with national audit firm CohnReznick LLP, charging it with failure to uphold several professional standards during its 2017 audits of two public companies that had previously been sued by the SEC for accounting fraud. In its order, the SEC specifically alleged that CohnReznick violated professional standards and contributed to materially misleading financial statements by, among other things, failing to exercise sufficient professional skepticism and accepting assertions from company management without sufficient supporting evidence. The SEC fined CohnReznick $1.9 million, levied fines and suspensions against several of its audit partners, and imposed an independent consultant with a sweeping mandate to demand various audit-related and internal process reforms and veto new audit clients. This action is consistent with the SEC’s repeated warnings that “gatekeepers” such as auditors are in the agency’s crosshairs.
Continue Reading SEC Imposes Penalties and Sweeping Independent Consultant on CohnReznick for Alleged Audit Failures in Case Underscoring SEC’s Focus on “Gatekeepers”
On June 7, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had charged software company Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. and seven of its current and former employees in connection with an alleged long-running accounting fraud involving improper revenue recognition of more than $46 million across six quarters. All of those implicated settled with the SEC and agreed to pay a range of penalties, except for the former CFO and controller, who will litigate against the SEC in New York federal court. Synchronoss was ordered to pay a $12.5 million penalty.
Continue Reading SEC Accounting Enforcement Action Signals Heightened Focus on Individual Accountability and Puts Public Company Executives on Notice for Potential SOX 304 Reimbursement
On January 14, 2022, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a decision in SEC v. Matthew Panuwat validating the legal theory advanced by the Commission that trading in the securities of a competitor company could form the basis of an insider trading violation where the defendant learned that an acquisition of his employer was imminent. In denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint, the court ruled that the SEC had sufficiently pled a claim, marking the first judicial decision concerning alleged insider trading in securities of a company based on material, nonpublic information (“MNPI”) about another company, a practice that has sometimes been referred to as “shadow trading.” The court’s refusal to dismiss the SEC’s novel legal theory that trading on the basis of MNPI of one company to profit on a securities transaction involving a competitor constitutes actionable insider trading should be considered by companies and individuals as they assess trading decisions and policies.
Continue Reading SEC’s “Shadow Trading” Insider Trading Case Allowed to Proceed
2021 was a year of transition for white-collar criminal and regulatory enforcement. As courthouses reopened and trials resumed, newly-installed heads of law enforcement authorities looked to reset priorities and ramp up enforcement in the first year of the Biden administration. …
Continue Reading Priorities, Trends and Developments in Enforcement and Compliance
On September 2 and 3, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced settlements with Pareteum Corporation (“Pareteum”) and Kraft Heinz Co. (“KHC”) for accounting fraud following years of alleged accounting improprieties and financial restatements at both companies. The underlying facts differed in significant ways, including with respect to the alleged involvement of senior executives, but both companies apparently received cooperation credit for their prompt and proactive remediation and cooperation with the SEC Division of Enforcement’s investigations. The messaging in relation to the announcement of these cases and their timing, coming in the early days of new Enforcement Director Gurbir Grewal’s tenure, is instructive. We expect the SEC to continue to focus on accounting fraud and to credit companies who provide cooperation in these challenging and resource-intensive investigations. To see a meaningful increase in the frequency and nature of cooperation, the SEC would be well-served to provide even more explicit guidance on how cooperation results in improved settlement terms. That said, these recent settlements are helpful in understanding the benefits of cooperation at this time.
Continue Reading Two Recent Settlements Highlight Heightened SEC Focus on Accounting Fraud and Potential Benefits of Cooperation