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December 13, 2022

Danske Bank will pay over $2 billion to resolve charges from the SEC and DOJ arising from failures in its anti-money laundering compliance program at an Estonian bank it acquired and began operating as a branch in 2007, and from its failure to disclose the risks posed by the program’s significant deficiencies.  Danske Bank had received information from an internal whistleblower, conducted internal audits, and received information from regulators, from which it knew that the Estonian branch served high-risk customers, including many Russians, who were engaged in billions of dollars in suspicious and potentially criminal transactions; that its internal policies were inadequate; and, that its AML and KYC procedures were not being followed.  Despite this knowledge, the bank made materially misleading statements and omissions that it complied with its AML obligations and that it had effectively managed its AML risks.  These statements mislead investors and U.S. banks and allowed its high-risk customers to gain unlawful access to the U.S. financial system.  Danske agreed to pay an SEC penalty of $413 million and, as part of a criminal plea to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, will forfeit over $2 billion, with $850 million of that amount being credited from separate criminal or civil resolutions with foreign and domestic authorities, including the SEC.  DOJ, SEC, SDNY

December 12, 2022

The SEC approved a whistleblower award of $20 million to an anonymous individual who voluntarily provided original information to the Commission that significantly contributed to an investigation that had been previously opened based on a referral from the Division of Examinations.  While noting that much of the information provided by the whistleblower was already known to Enforcement staff, the individual provided some helpful new information, met with Enforcement Division staff multiple times, and remained cooperative throughout the investigation.  SEC

November 28, 2022

An anonymous whistleblower received a $20 million award from the SEC, with the SEC finding that the whistleblower provided significant information and continuing helpful assistance in the Commission’s investigation.  The award order notes that the individual did not have information relating to one part of the enforcement action, and delayed reporting for two years after being involved for a short period in the conduct underlying part of the enforcement action, at the direction of their supervisor.  Four other claimants were denied any award related to the covered action.  SEC

November 21, 2022

Michael and Betsy Feinberg, owners of Catharon Software Company and who lied about having developed software capable of generating large returns for investors and philanthropists, will spend 5 years in prison and pay restitution for the $5 million in victim losses. The software, called VDelta, was in fact not under development, yet over a period of 15 years, the Feinbergs lied to investors with false promises about the software’s completion, release date and capabilities. Their investors were comprised mostly of the Feinbergs’ friends and associates located in Sedona, Arizona. The stolen funds were used to pay the Feinbergs’ salaries and to pay for personal expenses. USAO AZ

November 21, 2022

Ruixue “Serena” Shi will spend 20 years in federal prison and has been ordered to pay nearly $36 million in restitution for defrauding investors out of tens of millions of dollars. Shi, convicted on one count of wire fraud, was the general manager of Global House Buyer LLC, a China-based real estate company with an office in Los Angeles. Shi inked a deal with Dakota Development, a subsidiary of SBE Entertainment, to build a real estate development in the City of Coachella consisting of luxury condos, a hotel complex, and conference facilities. Shi solicited investments from mostly Chinese investors, preying on their ignorance of English and trust in the American economy, and led them to believe their investment would help them obtain an American visa. USAO CDCA

November 21, 2022

Todd and Julie Chrisley, married television personalities and newly-convicted fraudsters, will spend 12 and 7 years in federal prison, respectively, for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit tax evasion. The Chrisleys defrauded Atlanta-area community banks to obtain more than $36 million in personal loans by submitting false banking and personal financial statements. After funding their lavish, undeserved lifestyle with the multi-million-dollar loans, Todd Chrisley filed bankruptcy, walking away from over $20 million in loans. Both before and during the trial, the Chrisleys attempted to obstruct justice, including by submitting a fraudulent document in response to a grand jury subpoena. In addition to serving time in prison, the Chrisleys will be required to pay restitution in an amount to be determined later. USAO NDGA

November 2, 2022

CBS and former CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves will pay $30.5 million for working with a LAPD captain to conceal sexual assault allegations against Moonves, misleading investors by concealing information about the allegations, and for insider trading based on that information. CBS executives coordinated with the LAPD captain to prevent the complaint from being leaked to the press. As part of the settlement, CBS will reform its HR practices around sexual harassment, and Moonves is prohibited from serving as an officer or a director of any public company doing business in NY, without written approval by OAG. NYAG

November 1, 2022

Two Florida-based companies and their owners have been ordered to pay more than $24.8 million for violating the state Consumer Protection Act by sending 232,091 deceptive letters to more than 15,000 small business owners in Washington State, resulting in $1.3 million in payments to the fraudsters.  The letters by CA Certificate Service and Labor Poster Compliance appeared to originate from the government and demanded payment for certificates or posters that were implied to be mandatory, but were in fact available free of charge from state and federal agencies.  Although the nationwide fraud scheme resulted in $5.3 million in losses around the country, this is the first judgment against the defendants.  WA AG

October 31, 2022

The SEC has awarded more than $10 million to a whistleblower who provided critical information and assistance that contributed significantly to a successful enforcement action.  In addition to providing important documents, the whistleblower also met twice with agency staff, resulting in charges that closely mirrored the whistleblower’s allegations, as well as significant funds being returned to harmed investors.  SEC

October 25, 2022

Ramiro Jose Sugranes and Lina Maria Garcia (Chief Compliance Officer and President of UCB Financial Advisors, Inc.), along with two relief defendants related to Sugranes, must pay $5.7 million for cherry picking investments to divert profitable trades to their family members while saddling other clients with losing trades. Defendants made $4.6 million in unlawful profits on the scheme. Garcia provided Sugranes with UCB’s trading platform login information, which Sugranes used to effectuate the fraud. SEC
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