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Nowell D. Bamberger’s practice focuses on cross-border contentious disputes matters, including litigation and criminal and regulatory investigations.

On Monday, following two reversals of convictions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut moved to dismiss the sole securities fraud claim remaining against former Jefferies bond trader, Jesse Litvak, bringing an end to the 5 1/2-year long case against him.[1]  During the case’s winding procedural path, the Government twice secured convictions against Litvak by jury trial—on the theory that Litvak’s alleged misstatements about his own costs and profit margins for residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”) trades would have been material to the decision-making of a reasonable (and often sophisticated) investor-buyer.  And twice the Second Circuit overturned the convictions on narrow and technical grounds.  Notably, even while seeking to dismiss the remaining charge, the Government maintains in its filing that the Second Circuit’s decisions left undisturbed the soundness of its legal theories—namely that a broker-dealer’s misstatements relating to his own profits to sophisticated counterparties could satisfy the materiality requirement for securities fraud as a matter of law.[2]  Thus, notwithstanding the additional hurdles presented by the Second Circuit’s decisions, the Government’s decision not to pursue yet another trial against Litvak does not signal a death knell for all similar charges in the future, particularly those that are currently pending and arose as part of the Government’s RMBS probe.  But the somewhat torturous history of the Litvak case does highlight the difficulty for the Government in establishing the materiality of alleged misstatements made to sophisticated securities professionals who undertake their own analysis of trades.  Indeed, in many of these RMBS cases, the Government faced an uphill battle from the start, evidenced by its inability to secure convictions in many of them. Continue Reading Two Strikes and You’re Out: The Litvak Saga Comes to an End

The long-running criminal case against Jesse Litvak seems to have come to an end, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut filing a motion yesterday seeking voluntary dismissal of the sole remaining charge.[1]  This action—which has resulted in the government twice obtaining a criminal conviction against Litvak, only to see both convictions overturned by the Second Circuit—raised somewhat novel questions of the materiality of information a broker-dealer provides about its own costs or profit margins to sophisticated counterparties.  Notably, even while seeking dismissal, the Government again reiterated its view that the legal theory it pursued, and which the Second Circuit twice appeared to credit, remains sound and (presumably) actionable in future cases.[2] Continue Reading Government Moves to Voluntarily Dismiss Remaining Charge Against Jesse Litvak, Foregoing a Third Trial

A federal district court in California has become the latest court to hold that the 10-year statute of limitations under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (“FIRREA”) for offenses “affecting a financial institution” extends to offenses committed by banks and their employees, not just offenses committed against them.  The decision is the latest chapter in a long-running debate between the Government and financial institutions that has played out in a series of federal court decisions over the last three years regarding interpretation of FIRREA.  While this is not the first decision to hold that the 10-year limitations period applies to offenses by financial institutions, it is the first outside of the Second Circuit. Continue Reading California District Court Holds that FIRREA’s 10-Year Statute of Limitations Reaches Risks Caused to Financial Institutions by Their Own Employees

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.[1]  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. Continue Reading CFTC Announces Two Significant Awards by Whistleblower Program

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

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 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

The 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was signed by President Donald Trump on March 23, 2018, included a little-debated provision that revised portions of the 1986 Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) to permit the government to access through the use of a warrant or subpoena stored communications held abroad by providers of electronic communications services that are subject to United States jurisdiction.

The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act – or “CLOUD Act” – establishes that the SCA’s provisions concerning the production of electronic communications extend to those held abroad, establishes a framework for service providers to challenge an SCA warrant, directs courts to conduct a limited comity analysis to balance certain factors relevant to cross-border transfers of data, and introduces an incentive for foreign governments to enter into executive agreements with the United States governing cross-border data requests.

Prior to the enactment of the CLOUD Act, the Supreme Court was poised to rule in the case Microsoft Corporation v. United States of America, No. 17-2, on whether the SCA in its previous form permitted the use of a warrant to obtain electronic communications stored by a U.S. company on foreign servers. The relevance of that case, which was argued in February, is substantially undermined by this Congressional action.

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This year’s annual meeting of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (“NPC”), brought forth a series of consequential changes that continue to push forward President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign while consolidating the President’s power through new party appointments and the elimination of the two-term limit, and streamlining government bureaucracies through the restructuring of several government agencies.  Among the key changes was the creation of a new anti-corruption “super” agency, vested with broad powers to investigate and recommend for prosecution prosecute public-sector corruption throughout the country. Continue Reading China’s New Anti-Corruption Authority And Related Developments

On March 14, 2018, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo gave a speech at the Futures Industry Association (“FIA”) annual meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, in which he reviewed the CFTC’s activities during the past year and provided a preview of CFTC priorities for the coming year.[1]  Among the issues addressed in Chairman Giancarlo’s speech were the CFTC’s successes and priorities in enforcement, including in particular initiatives in the area of anti-spoofing and virtual currencies. Continue Reading Recent CFTC Enforcement Actions: Spoofing and Virtual Currency Task Forces