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September 19, 2022

Sparkster Ltd. and its CEO, Sajjad Daya, have agreed to pay $30 million to settle charges of offering and selling crypto asset securities called SPRK tokens that were not registered with the SEC and were not eligible for a registration exemption.  A crypto influencer, Ian Balina, was separately charged in federal court for promoting SPRK tokens on social media without disclosing that he received a 30% bonus on tokens he purchased in exchange for his posts, and for selling the tokens to an investing pool of around 50 individuals.  SEC

September 13, 2022

Uber Technologies Inc. and subsidiary Rasier LLC have paid $100 million to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Unemployment Trust Fund after the agency found that nearly 300,000 Uber drivers in the state were improperly classified as independent contractors and thus ineligible for safety net benefits.  The companies were originally assessed $523 in overdue contributions, with penalties and interest adding up to another $119 million, but contested the amount and made the payment based on a revised assessment.  NJ AG

September 12, 2022

A man who operated a Ponzi scheme that procured over $5 million from victims in Puerto Rico and the continental U.S. has been sentenced to over 11 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution to 46 victims.  Carlos Maldonado was found to have misrepresented his companies as legitimate businesses, and failed to disclose to investors that their funds would be used for his own purposes, including buying and trading stocks on his personal accounts, and paying off personal auto loans payments.  USAO PR

September 12, 2022

Registered investment advisers Hudson Advisors L.P. and Lone Star Global Acquisitions Ltd. have agreed to a resolution totaling $79.7 million to resolve claims that the firms included $54.6 million of its owner’s anticipated U.S. tax liability in fees charged to the funds although by law, those tax liabilities were payable by the owner and the firms were not authorized to charge the tax liability as a component of fees without full and fair disclosure to the funds. The firms will pay an $11.2 million civil penalty and reimburse the affected funds $68.5 million, which includes interest on the undisclosed tax liability charges.  SEC

September 6, 2022

JUUL Labs has settled with thirty-four states and territories and agreed to pay $438.5 million and abide by strict injunctive terms in order to resolve an investigation into its marketing and sales practices.  The investigation had revealed that JUUL willfully targeted underage users, relied on age verification techniques it knew were ineffective, manipulated the chemical composition of its products to be less harsh for inexperienced users, and implied that its products contained lower concentrations of nicotine than it actually did.  DE AG; GA AG; OR AG; VA AG

September 2, 2022

Swapnil Rege, SwapStar Capital LLC, and Reema Rege have been ordered to pay $5 million in disgorgement and pre-judgment interest for engaging in fraudulent solicitation and misappropriation, including on Swapnil’s part, engaging in trading despite an existing bar for prior violations, and on Reema’s part, receiving illegally-obtained profits she was not entitled to.  The orders resulted from parallel but separate enforcement actions by the CFTC and SEC, and included a permanent trading and registration ban against Swapnil.  CFTC; SEC

August 24, 2022

Taronis Technologies, Inc. and related entities have agreed to pay a total of $5.1 million in disgorgement and interest to resolve allegations that the companies issued false and misleading statements claiming to have agreements and relationships with customers that did not exist or were exaggerated.  Taronis executives created fake and backdated orders, resulting in improper revenue recognition.  Based on these misstated financials, defendants raised approximately $30 million from investors in private placements.  SEC

August 16, 2022

Eagle Bancorp, Inc. has agreed to pay $13.35 million in penalties, disgorgement, and interest to resolve charges that it violated SEC regulations and GAAP in failing to disclose as related party transactions nearly $90 million in loans extended to trusts associated with its former CEO and chairman of the board, Ronald D. Paul, as well as tens of millions of dollars of loans to other Eagle directors and their family members.  The SEC further found that when questions about the reporting were raised publicly, the bank knowingly made false and misleading statements that the loans were not related party loans.  Paul agreed to settle related charges for a total of $431,000.  SEC

August 10, 2022

Angel Oak Capital Advisors and its portfolio manager Ashish Neghandi will pay $1.75 million and $75,000 respectively to settle charges of misleading investors via their $90 million securitization of home renovation loans. When delinquency rates on their “fix-and-flip” loans increased unexpectedly, rather than accelerating return payments to certain investors, as contractually required, defendants artificially reduced delinquency rates by diverting borrowers’ funds to pay down outstanding loan balances. SEC

August 9, 2022

The SEC has awarded two whistleblowers more than $16 million for their assistance in a successful enforcement action.  The first whistleblower, who received about $13 million, submitted information that sparked the investigation and later provided key witnesses and other critical information that helped move the investigation forward.  The second whistleblower, who received more than $3 million, later submitted new information that also aided the investigation.  SEC
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