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. 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. Continue Reading Second Circuit Again Reverses Fraud Conviction of RMBS Trader Litvak
Robin M. Bergen’s practice focuses on government and internal investigations, and regulatory enforcement and examination of broker-dealers and investment advisers.
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.
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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) released its 2018 National Exam Program Examination Priorities. The 2018 priorities highlight areas of emphasis for OCIE, including cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity, anti-money laundering, and issues affecting retail investors (especially seniors and those saving for retirement). While the core areas of focus and many of the priorities for 2018 are similar to those from 2017, there is a clear shift in emphasis that we attribute to the change in leadership at the SEC. Some specific changes also likely stem from OCIE’s 2017 examination findings, recent market developments, and trends in enforcement. Continue Reading Lessons for Broker-Dealers and Investment Advisers from the SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations 2018 Priorities
As the Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Enforcement signaled in its recent annual report, policing the asset management industry will be a key priority in its continuing focus on protecting retail investors. This renewed emphasis reaffirms the view that if a significant error or misconduct is detected, firms generally should not wait for SEC scrutiny to take corrective steps and mitigate investor harm. Voluntary remediation must be considered as part of any strategy for managing regulatory exposure as well as reputational and litigation risk. Where a firm does decide to remediate, it must proceed carefully to avoid pitfalls that could lead to fresh scrutiny from regulators or even private civil litigation.
This post provides guidance to regulated firms on managing risks once they determine to voluntarily remediate – as distinct from the fact-specific issue of whether to “self-report” errors or misconduct – in the SEC context. It begins with an overview of the benefits and risks of voluntary remediation and common types of remedial measures. It then identifies potential issues that can arise when undertaking remediation. Finally, it advises on structuring and implementing remedial measures to minimize risks of regulatory or litigation exposure. Continue Reading Voluntary Remediation in the SEC Context: Avoiding Common Pitfalls
On December 5, 2017, a Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida held in SEC v. Herrera that the “oral download” of external counsel’s interview notes to the Securities and Exchange Commission waived protection from disclosure under the attorney work product doctrine. As a result of the decision, issued in an SEC enforcement action, counsel was ordered to disclose to certain former employees of its client those interview notes that were orally downloaded to the SEC. Herrera highlights issues that internal and external lawyers should carefully consider when conducting internal investigations and particularly when providing downloads to the government of material that may be privileged or subject to work product protection.
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On November 15, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Enforcement released its annual report detailing its priorities for the coming year and evaluating enforcement actions that occurred during Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2017. The Report captures the SEC during a period of transition—Chairman Jay Clayton assumed the helm of the Commission in May 20172 and Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin were named co-directors of the Enforcement Division soon thereafter.3 The Report provides insight into changes in the SEC’s approach to enforcement actions and a glimpse into its priorities for the coming year. The following summarizes key shifts from FY 2016, outlines the Enforcement Division’s current priorities, and, in view of its stated focus on the conduct of investment professionals and protection of retail investors, provides guidance to the investment management industry as it gears up for the coming year.
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