On December 29, 2022, in a closely-watched insider trading case, the Second Circuit decided United States v. Blaszczak (“Blaszczak II”). The Supreme Court in January 2021 had vacated and remanded the Second Circuit’s prior decision in light of Kelly v. United States (also known as the “Bridgegate” decision). On remand, a divided panel of the Second Circuit found that trading on the basis of certain confidential government information related to pending regulation does not give rise to violations of the criminal wire fraud and securities fraud statutes.
As discussed in our prior blog post, earlier this year the Supreme Court vacated and remanded the Second Circuit’s decision in a high-profile insider trading case, United States v. Blaszczak, for reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court’s “Bridgegate” decision in Kelly v. United States. In Blaszczak, the Second Circuit had previously found that a government agency’s confidential pre-decisional information constituted “property” under Title 18, and that therefore the Blaszczak defendants had committed fraud under the applicable statutes when they obtained the information and traded on it. However, following that decision, the Supreme Court held in Kelly that a government regulatory interest did not constitute “property” for the purpose of Title 18 fraud statutes. The Blaszczak defendants filed a petition for certiorari, contending that the Second Circuit’s reading of Title 18 could not be reconciled with the Supreme Court’s holding. After the Blaszczak defendants filed their petition, the government consented to a remand to the Second Circuit.
Continue Reading DOJ Concedes Error In Title 18 Insider Trading Convictions After Supreme Court’s “Bridgegate” Decision
Corporate investigations under the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice (“DOJ”) are expected to increase in the coming months. Navigating such investigations can be complex, distracting, and costly, and comes with the risk of prosecution and significant collateral consequences for the company. Recently, Cleary Gottlieb partners and former DOJ prosecutors, Lev Dassin, Jonathan Kolodner, and Rahul…
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded a high-profile insider trading case, United States v. Blaszczak, to the Second Circuit “for further consideration in light of Kelly v. United States.” Kelly is more commonly known as the “Bridgegate” decision, in which the Supreme Court restricted the application of federal fraud statutes to schemes seeking to obtain property, to the exclusion of schemes primarily targeting regulatory actions by government officials. In light of the remand, the Second Circuit will now reconsider its endorsement in Blaszczak of liability under Title 18 for a scheme targeting “political intelligence.”…
Continue Reading Second Circuit to Reconsider the Scope of Insider Trading Prosecutions Under Federal Fraud Statutes After Supreme Court’s Bridgegate Decision
Insider trading law has remained a subject of significant debate and attention, including with a recent Second Circuit decision addressing the use of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 (wire fraud) and 1348 (securities fraud) in insider trading cases and a new insider trading bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December by an overwhelming majority. Yesterday, a blue ribbon task force headed by Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, published a report studying the history and current state of insider trading law and proposing reforms that would bring greater clarity and certainty to the law.
Continue Reading Task Force Led By Preet Bharara and Cleary Gottlieb’s Joon H. Kim Issues Report Recommending Reforms to Insider Trading Law
Last month, Representative Jim Himes (D-Conn) and his co-sponsors, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Denny Heck (D-WA), introduced H.R. 2534: The Insider Trading Prohibition Act. Unlike its substantially similar predecessor, H.R. 1625, which was introduced by Representative Himes on March 25, 2015, H.R. 2534 has gained some momentum in the U.S. House of Representatives, having been unanimously approved by the Financial Services Committee in May 2019. Although the bill is only at the preliminary stage, if the proposal eventually proceeds further in the process of becoming law, it will represent a potentially significant shift in and clarification of U.S. insider trading laws.
Continue Reading H.R. 2534: Insider Trading Prohibition Act – Congress Considers Enacting Changes to Insider Trading Law Under Section 10(b)
Nearly a decade ago, WikiLeaks ushered in the age of mass leaks. Since then, corporations, governments, public figures and private entities have increasingly had to reckon with a new reality: that vigilantes, activists, extortionists and even state actors can silently steal and rapidly disseminate proprietary information, including customer data and other sensitive information. Last month, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) indicted four individuals based on information first revealed in the “Panama Papers” leak. This marks a significant milestone in law enforcement’s reliance on evidence based on an unauthorized mass leak of information. While leaks and hacks are not a novel phenomenon—in 1971, the New York Times published top secret documents on the Vietnam War and, in 1994, a paralegal leaked tobacco industry documents that ultimately cost the industry billions of dollars in litigation and settlement costs—the frequency, scale and ease of dissemination of leaked information today presents a difference not only of degree, but of kind. The new Panama Papers-based criminal case will likely raise a host of novel legal issues based on legal challenges to the DOJ’s reliance on information illegally obtained by a third party, as well as information that would ordinarily be protected by the attorney-client privilege. In this memorandum, we discuss the potential issues raised by the prosecution and their implications. …
Continue Reading U.S. Criminal Prosecution Based on Panama Papers Hack Raises Novel Legal Issues
On December 18, 2018, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important ruling in In re Grand Jury Subpoena, holding that foreign state-owned corporations are subject to criminal jurisdiction in the United States and that the exceptions to sovereign immunity set forth in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (the “FSIA”) apply to criminal as well as to civil cases. The court also rejected the foreign sovereign entity’s argument that it should be excused from complying with a subpoena because doing so would violate the law of the respondent’s country of incorporation. Although In re Grand Jury Subpoena arises in the context of enforcing a grand jury subpoena, its language and holding could potentially be extended to criminal prosecutions of a foreign state or state-owned entity.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Rules in Special Counsel Mueller Investigation That State-Owned Corporations Are Subject to Criminal Jurisdiction in the United States
Last month, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales effectively shut down the operation of the UN-operated International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (called by its Spanish initials, “CICIG”) by declining to renew its mandate past its September 2019 expiration date and by barring the head of CICIG, Iván Velásquez, from re-entering the country. CICIG, a uniquely independent organ of the United Nations (“U.N.”), was created in 2007 to support and assist Guatemalan institutions in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting public corruption. Over the past decade, it has investigated nearly 200 public officials, and its efforts led to the prosecution and ultimate resignation of former Guatemalan President, Otto Pérez Molina. …
Continue Reading Anti-Corruption in Guatemala: A Critical Moment for CICIG
On Tuesday, September 11, 2018, Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York issued a decision holding that Initial Coin Offerings (“ICO”) may qualify as securities offerings and therefore be subject to the criminal federal securities laws. This ruling came as two U.S. regulators—the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”)—announced separate actions under securities laws against companies engaged in the cryptocurrency marketplace, including the sale of digital tokens. As the popularity of cryptocurrencies grows and businesses and entrepreneurs increasingly turn to ICOs to raise capital, these developments may serve as guideposts for how cryptocurrencies and ICOs will be viewed by courts and federal regulators in cases to follow.
Continue Reading Federal Court, SEC, and FINRA Scrutinize Cryptocurrencies and ICOs