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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.

September 24, 2021

London-based advertising company WPP plc, which has ADRs registered in the US, will pay $19 million in disgorgement, interest, and penalties to resolve allegations that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  The SEC charged that WPP acquired advertising agencies in high-risk markets and failed to insure that these subsidiaries implemented appropriate internal controls or respond to repeated warning signs and internal complaints about activities including payments to government officials in India, China, Brazil, and Peru.  SEC

September 24, 2021

An anonymous whistleblower received an award of $36 million from the SEC.  The SEC found that the individual provided information that significantly contributed to a previously-opened SEC investigation and recoveries by the SEC and another agency.  The SEC found that the individual had unreasonably delayed in reporting the conduct, and had participated in the underlying scheme, although they did not direct, plan, or initiate it.  Two other claimants were denied any recoveries on the grounds that the information they provided did not significantly contribute to the recoveries in the covered action or related action.  SEC

September 15, 2021

Two unnamed whistleblowers received awards totaling $114 million for recoveries in an SEC enforcement action and two related actions.  The first whistleblower, who received an award of $110 million, provided independent analysis of publicly-available information about an unnamed company, as well as a witness list and substantial ongoing assistance during investigations by the SEC and another unidentified agency.  The second whistleblower, who received an award of $4 million, provided more limited information after the SEC had already undertaken significant investigative steps.    SEC

September 14, 2021

App Annie Inc. will pay $10 million to resolve claims of securities fraud arising from the company’s alleged misuse of mobile app “alternative data” shared by companies about the performance of their mobile apps with the promise that such data would be aggregated and anonymized.  In fact, App Annie used non-aggregated and non-anonymized data to develop models that it sold to customers to make investment decisions and trade ahead of upcoming earnings announcements.  The company’s co-founder and former CEO will also pay a fine of $300,000.  SEC

September 3, 2021

The Kraft Heinz Company and two of its former executives will pay $62 million to resolve charges that between 2015 and 2018 the company falsely reported cost savings, including by recognizing unearned discounts from suppliers and maintaining false and misleading supplier contracts. In 2019, Kraft Heinz restated its financials, correcting a total of $208 million in improperly-recognized cost savings.  The SEC alleged that the company did not have effective internal accounting controls in its procurement division, and that former COO Eduardo Pelleissone and former Chief Procurement Officer Klaus Hoffman ignored red flags that expenses were not being accurately reported.  Pelleissone and Hoffman will pay civil penalties of $300,000 and $100,000, respectively.  SEC

August 30, 2021

KMS Financial Services Inc. will pay $200,000 to resolve SEC charges that the investment advisor and broker-dealer violated Regulation S-P regarding the safeguarding of customer records and information. The SEC alleged that between September 2018 and December 2019, email accounts of KMS personnel were taken over by unauthorized third parties, resulting in the exposure of personally identifying information of nearly 5,000 KMS customers and clients.  The SEC found that KMS failed to adopt written policies and procedures requiring additional firm-wide security measures until May 2020, and did not fully implement those additional security measures firm-wide until August 2020, placing additional customer and client records and information at risk.  SEC

August 30, 2021

Cambridge Investment Research Inc. and related entities will pay $250,000 to resolve SEC charges that the investment advisor and broker-dealer violated Regulation S-P regarding the safeguarding of customer records and information. The SEC alleged that between January 2018 and June 2021, email accounts of Cambridge personnel were taken over by unauthorized third parties, resulting in the exposure or potential exposure of personally identifying information of approximately 5,000 Cambridge customers and clients.  The SEC found that Cambridge discovered the first email account takeover in January 2018, but failed to adopt and implement firm-wide enhanced security measures for cloud-based email accounts until 2021, resulting in the exposure and potential exposure of additional customer and client records and information.  SEC

August 30, 2021

Cetera Advisor Networks LLC and related entities will pay $300,000 to resolve SEC charges that the investment advisor and broker-dealer violated Regulation S-P regarding the safeguarding of customer records and information and provision of breach notification to customers. The SEC alleged that between November 2017 and June 2020, email accounts of Cetera personnel were taken over by unauthorized third parties, resulting in the exposure of personally identifying information of more than 4,000 Cetera customers and clients.  The accounts were not protected with multi-factor authentication, even though Cetera’s policies required MFA.  SEC
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