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As SEC Whistleblower Chief Norberg Moves On, the Agency Reinforces Its Warm Embrace of Whistleblowers

Posted  04/16/21
silver whistle with Securities Exchange Commission logo
With the SEC's recent announcement that Jane Norberg will be stepping down this month as the head of the SEC Whistleblower Office, the agency is losing one of its greatest whistleblower champions.  As the agency so prominently reported, the Whistleblower Program under Norberg's tenure made roughly $650 million in whistleblower awards and reached a host of other milestones.  This included nine of the Top-10 awards in...

Catch of the Week: Founders of Poop-Testing Startup uBiome Face Fraud Charges

Posted  03/24/21
specimen jar
San Francisco-based uBiome and its founders Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte claimed they were “inventing the microbiome industry” and “making products that improve people’s lives.” Once considered a Silicon Valley success story, today, uBiome is bankrupt and its founders face various federal securities fraud and related criminal conspiracy charges. The biotech startup sold home medical tests including...

Partner Mary Inman discusses SEC whistleblower reward program and Reenvisioning Whistleblowers as Forward Indicator of Risk at Stanford Rock Center “Whistleblowers, Ethics and Compliance” Event

Posted  03/19/21
On January 19, 2021, Constantine Cannon partner Mary Inman joined several esteemed co-panelists to discuss the recent amendments to the SEC Whistleblower program’s rules, SEC whistleblowers’  impact on securities law enforcement, and the nature and frequency of corporate whistleblowing in the “Whistleblowers, Ethics and Compliance” event organized by Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance. The...

The SPAC bubble continues, and all the fraud concerns remain

Posted  03/12/21
market trading graph with large dip
A few months ago, we wrote about why the sudden explosion of SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies) raised serious investor fraud concerns as they risk being scammed.  Since then, the number of SPACs and their very high-profile acquisition targets has only continued to rise.  On March 10, 2021, for example, Bloomberg reported BuzzFeed was considering a SPAC merger to go public.  And none of the fraud...

COVID Fraud a Year on from the Onset of the Pandemic

Posted  02/19/21
coronavirus-map
The COVID-19 pandemic has raged across the world over the last year, causing widespread harm both to humanity and the economy. Even in these trying times, fraudsters have not let up and have found ways to exploit the pandemic for personal gain. As we move into the one-year anniversary of the pandemic starting with the United States we look back on the ways programs intended for relief have been exploited, and a few of...

Top Ten Whistleblower Awards for 2020

Posted  01/22/21
2020 was another strong year for whistleblowers, who once again collectively recovered billions of dollars for the government and hundreds of millions of dollars in whistleblower rewards through their filing of lawsuits under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  Whistleblowers this past year also continued to secure financial rewards under the Dodd-Frank SEC Whistleblower and CFTC Whistleblower programs,...

Top Ten SEC and CFTC Recoveries of 2020

Posted  01/15/21
top ten list
Despite its many shortcomings, 2020 did bring great news for whistleblowers: record-breaking growth in the CFTC and SEC Whistleblower Programs, as well as massive enforcement actions by both agencies.  In this post, we will detail the Top Ten SEC and CFTC recoveries of 2020 in cases other than FCPA enforcement.  As detailed below, the SEC netted billions of dollars in penalties and restitution from companies accused...

COVID Frauds of the Week: PPP, Puppies, and Securities Fraud

Posted  12/11/20
golden retriever puppies sitting in a grass field
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, the government has remained vigilant in rooting out fraudsters who seek to capitalize on the crisis to line their own pockets.  Over the past week, federal prosecutors have advanced cases against multiple individuals who fraudulently obtained government funds that were supposed to help struggling small businesses.  And in another colorful case, DOJ busted a...

Catch of the Week: SCANA to pay $137.5 Million in Fines & Disgorgement Following Failure of Nuclear Plant Construction; Executives Face Jail Time

Posted  12/4/20
industrial pipes all around
In 2017, the publicly-traded company SCANA Corp. (now Dominion Energy) announced that it was abandoning its plans to expand South Carolina’s Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station.  A settlement reached this week resolves claims of fraud by SCANA in the project.  For years, SCANA had publicly claimed it was making progress on the construction and would complete it in time to qualify for $1.4 billion in federal...

SEC makes its annual whistleblower report to Congress – SPOILER ALERT: BEST YEAR EVER!

Posted  11/20/20
SEC-building
We already know it has been a banner year for the Securities and Exchange Commission's Whistleblower Program (fiscal year ending September 30).  As we previously reported, the record-breaking year included roughly $175 million in awards to 39 whistleblowers, with 15 awards in the month of September alone.  And this does not even include the $114 million blockbuster award the Commission made just three weeks ago,...
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