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SEC Enforcement Actions

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the United States agency with primary responsibility for enforcing federal securities laws. Whistleblowers with knowledge of violations of the federal securities laws can submit a claim to the SEC under the SEC Whistleblower Reward Program, and may be eligible to receive  monetary rewards and protection against retaliation by employers.

Below are summaries of recent SEC settlements or successful prosecutions. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give  rise to an SEC enforcement action and claim under the SEC Whistleblower Reward Program, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

July 2, 2020

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will pay $21 million to resolve SEC charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Alexion subsidiaries in Turkey and Russia were alleged to have made payments to foreign officials in those countries in order to secure favorable regulatory treatment for Alexion’s drug Soliris, and to increase the number of prescriptions for the drug.  The Turkish and Russian subsidiaries, as well as Alexion subsidiaries in Brazil and Colombia, falsified their books and records with respect to improper payments, and Alexion’s internal accounting controls were not adequate to detect or prevent the improper payments and accounting.  SEC

June 26, 2020

Telegram Group Inc. and its subsidiary TON Issuer Inc. will return more than $1.2 billion to investors and pay a $18.5 million civil penalty to resolve SEC charges that it conducted an unlawful unregistered offering of its digital tokens called “Grams.” The SEC alleged that the Grams were securities sold by defendants in order to raise capital to finance for their own business, which included the development of their own blockchain and a mobile messenger application.  SEC

June 25, 2020

Novartis AG, a Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, along with its Greek subsidiary, Novartis Hellas S.A.C.I. (Novartis Greece), have agreed to pay $233 million to the DOJ and $112 to the SEC, for a combined penalty of $345 million, in order to resolve charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  A former subsidiary, Alcon Pte Ltd—now a subsidiary of multinational eyecare company, Alcon Ltd—has agreed to pay $8.9 million to resolve similar charges.  Between 2012 and 2016, the subsidiaries allegedly bribed employees of state-owned hospitals and clinics in Greece and Vietnam to use Novartis or Alcon-branded products while falsely recording the improper payments.  As part of the settlement, both Novartis Greece and Alcon Pte Ltd will also enter into deferred prosecution agreements with DOJ.  DOJ; USAO NJ; SEC

June 24, 2020

SG Americas Securities LLC has agreed to pay $1.55 million to the SEC and $1.55 million to FINRA, for a total monetary penalty of $3.1 million, to resolve charges of failing to provide complete and accurate securities trading information, also known as “blue sheet data.”  The SEC had found that because of inadequate internal processes, SG Americas failed to catch these coding errors, causing them to submit missing or incorrect data for about $27.6 million transactions.  SEC

June 10, 2020

Eight defendants - Arkadiy Dubovoy, Igor Dubovoy, Southeastern Holding and Investment Company LLC, APD Developers, Inc., Leonid Momotok, Aleksandr Garkusha, Vladislav Khalupsky, and Memelland Investments Ltd. – have settled civil claims in connection with the hacking of newswire services to steal corporate earnings releases before they were made public.  The SEC alleged that the hackers created a secret web-based location to transmit the stolen data to traders in the United States and abroad. The traders allegedly used this nonpublic information in a short window of opportunity to place illicit trades in stocks, options, and other securities, sometimes funneling a portion of their illegal profits to the hackers.  The defendants will pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest totaling more than $14 million. SEC

June 5, 2020

The world’s former largest private manufacturer of dermatology products, along with its former chairman and CEO, have been ordered to pay $37 million to defrauded shareholders, many of whom were company employees.  According to the SEC, Stiefel Laboratories and Charles Stiefel bought back stock at severely undervalued prices and failed to disclose information during the buyback that would have alerted shareholders to the stock’s true value.  At the time, the company was quietly negotiating the sale of the company to GlaxoSmithKline PLC, which ultimately led to a share price of more than four times what defendants paid to shareholders.  SEC

June 4, 2020

A whistleblower has been awarded $50 million in what is the largest amount ever awarded to a single person in the history of the SEC’s whistleblower program.  According to the SEC’s press release, the successful enforcement action that resulted from the unnamed individual’s tip allowed harmed investors to recover a significant amount of money.  SEC

June 4, 2020

Investment advisory firm Navallier & Associates, and its founder and Chief Investment Officer, Louis Navallier, has been ordered to pay $30 million to the SEC for allegedly defrauding prospective clients and retained clients in connection with the firm’s Vireo AlphaSector investment strategies.  The firm was allegedly aware of false and misleading statements regarding the stategies’ performance in marketing materials sent to clients, but failed to inform clients and in fact continued to sell the strategies.  SEC
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