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September 18, 2023

Lyft Inc. will pay a $10 million civil penalty for its failure to disclose a board director's role in the sale of $424 million worth of private shares prior to Lyft's initial public offering. The director arranged for a shareholder to sell their shares to a special purpose vehicle, and then arranged for another investor to purchase the shares through the SPV. Lyft failed to disclose this information in its 2019 Form 10-K, depriving investors of critical information. SEC

September 12, 2023

Canadian resident George Stubos will pay disgorgement of $5,367,926 and prejudgment interest of $806,108 for his microcap stock investment scheme. Stubos gained control of several thinly traded microcap companies and then lied to investors, brokers, and transfer agents, and convinced them his stock shares were eligible to be publicly traded. In addition to not registering his sales with the SEC and failing to disclose his control over the entities, Stubos also engaged in market manipulation to create demand for his stock. In addition to the disgorgement and interest, Stubos is subject to a penny stock bar and is prohibited from participating in the issuance, purchase, offer, or sale of any security other than for his own personal accounts. SEC

September 6, 2023

Ameritrust Corporation and relief defendant Beespoke Capital, Inc. will pay more than $20 million in disgorgement, civil penalties, and prejudgment interest for lying to investors primarily located in the Republic of Korea, telling them their investments would be used to purchase shares of a publicly traded company in the U.S. Ameritrust's CEO, Seong Yeol Lee, through a network of recruiters, solicited and received funds from investors, which he then deposited in his corporate and personal bank accounts, as well as bank accounts for three of his adult children. Lee in fact never applied for Ameritrust's exchange listing. In addition to paying the $20 million, Ameritrust is prohibited from violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act. SEC

August 29, 2023

Goldman Sachs & Co. has been ordered to pay $5.5 million to settle CFTC charges of violating the cease-and-desist provision of a previous order.  The 2019 order had involved a failure of Goldman’s hardware to record calls to its trading and sales desk for 20 calendar days in 2014.  The present order covers two additional failures involving Goldman’s use of two third-party vendors to record and retain audio calls.  During the early days of the pandemic, increased usage led to increased failures of the vendors’ hardware and software, which in turn led to additional failures to fully record and retain thousands of calls per CFTC recordkeeping requirements.  CFTC

August 28, 2023

Some of the largest credit repair brands in the country, including CreditRepair.com and Lexington Law, have been banned from offering telemarketing credit repair services for 10 years to settle charges of using telemarketers to collect illegal advance fees for their services, in violation of the federal Telemarketing Sale Rule.  The companies have also been ordered to pay $2.7 billion in restitution, and two entities, Progrexion Marketing and Health law firm, will pay $64 million in civil penalties.  CFPB

August 28, 2023

Impact Theory, LLC will pay more than $6.1 million in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and a civil penalty, for offering and selling crypto asset securities to the public in an unregistered offering. Impact Theory sold three tiers of non-fungible tokens (NFTs)--"Legendary," "Heroic," and "Relentless," which were ostensibly an investment into their business in which Impact was "trying to build the next Disney" which would provide "tremendous value" to investors. In addition to the $6.1 million, the order establishes a Fair Fund to return monies paid by injured investors, and Impact Theory will destroy all Founder's Keys in its possession or control and will eliminate any royalty Impact might otherwise receive from secondary market transactions. SEC

August 25, 2023

Wells Fargo Clearing Services LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network LLC (collectively, Wells Fargo), has agreed to pay $35 million in civil penalties to resolve charges of overcharging more than 10,900 investment advisory accounts more than $26.8 million in excessive advisory fees.  The fees were inadvertently charged to certain clients who opened accounts before 2014 through the end of 2022, after account processing staff failed to enter agreed-upon reduced fees into billing systems.  Wells Fargo has already reimbursed affected accountholders approximately $40 million with interest.  SEC

August 14, 2023

UBS AG has agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle a DOJ investigation alleging the financial institution and its U.S.-based affiliates defrauded investors by making false and misleading statements regarding its residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), which it knew largely did not hold up to loan underwriting guidelines and consumer protection laws.  During the 2008 financial crisis, 40 RMBS that UBS issued in 2006 and 2007 ultimately tanked, causing substantial losses to investors.  This settlement is the last case brought by a DOJ working group focused on failed RMBS that led to the crisis.  DOJ

August 10, 2023

Colombian financial services institution Corporación Financiera Colombiana S.A. (Corficolombiana) has agreed to pay over $80 million to resolve foreign bribery investigations by criminal, civil, and administrative authorities in the United States and Colombia.  Between 2012 and 2015, Corficolombiana allegedly conspired with Brazilian-based construction conglomerate Odebrecht S.A. (Odebrecht) to offer and pay more than $20 million in bribes to Colombian government officials in order to win rights to construct and operate a 328-mile toll road.  As a result, Corficolombiana earned more than $28 million in profits.  Now, in addition to the financial penalties that it will pay—which will be divided between DOJ and SEC—the company will be subject to a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with DOJ.  DOJ; SEC

August 8, 2023

BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Wells Fargo, and Bank of Montreal have been ordered to pay a combined $260 million for violating CFTC rules around recordkeeping and supervision.  Separately, two of those institutions, BNP Paribas and Wells Fargo, along with BMO Capital Markets Corp., Houlihan Lokey Capital, Inc., Mizuho Securities USA LLC, Moelis & Company LLC, SMBC Nikko Securities America, Inc., and Wedbush Securities Inc., have agreed to pay a combined $289 million for violating similar SEC rules.  The financial institutions were found to have failed to maintain, preserve, or produce communications sent via unapproved channels, such as personal texts.  With this enforcement action, the CFTC has recovered over $1 billion from actions against 18 financial institutions for similar charges, while the SEC has recovered over $1.5 billion from actions against 30 financial institutions.  CFTC, SEC
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