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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: Fraud Behind the Silver Screen

Posted  04/9/21
Canisters of movie film rolled out
This week the SEC announced that it obtained an emergency asset freeze in an enforcement action against L.A.-based actor Zachary Horwitz and his company 1nMM Capital, LLC for allegedly running a $690 million Ponzi scheme.  In its complaint, the SEC claimed Horowitz’s recent actions threatened to dissipate the remaining investor funds in his possession. While this story is still technically “mid-catch,” the...

Watch Now: Eric Havian Joins OffshoreAlert Panel with SEC, CFTC, and IRS Whistleblower Officials on Rewards for Domestic and Foreign Whistleblowers

Posted  04/2/21

For the third year in a row, Constantine Cannon partner Eric Havian participated in OffshoreAlert’s annual conference, vGlobal, speaking on a panel with senior leaders of the whistleblower programs at the SEC, CFTC, and IRS.  The panel, which you can watch below, “Rewarding Domestic & Foreign Whistleblowers: The Growth & Spreading Reach of U.S. Programs,” addressed the international reach of the U.S....

CFTC Clobbers Cryptocurrency Con Man

Posted  04/1/21
cryptocurrency scam
Last week, the CFTC announced that a federal court entered a nearly $600 million default judgment against a British man who used bitcoin to defraud more than 1,000 people worldwide.  The judgment is yet another indication that the CFTC will vigorously police cryptocurrency fraud.

The Scam

The CFTC filed a complaint against Benjamin Reynolds and his bitcoin trading and investment company, Control-Finance, back 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...

Catch of the Week: The Long Tail of an Infamous Ponzi Scheme

Posted  02/26/21
gavel with handcuffs and money scattered around
In 2012, R. Allen Stanford, former head of Stanford International Bank (SIB), was sentenced to 110 years’ imprisonment for masterminding a massive Ponzi scheme through which he misappropriated $7 billion from bank customers.  That scheme had been running for twenty years when it was shut down in 2009. Now, in February 2021, ten years after Stanford’s conviction and thirty years after his scheme began, the...

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...

Court of Appeals Upholds SEC Denial of Whistleblower Award

Posted  02/18/21
Bicycle messenger blurred by speeding on street
A whistleblower who was denied an award by the SEC lost his appeal to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, resulting in a rare court opinion addressing the SEC Whistleblower Reward Program. The court agreed with the SEC that the whistleblower, who had reported information regarding Bank of America and argued that he had worked extensively with DOJ, had not shown that he was entitled to a whistleblower award from...
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