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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.

August 10, 2020

Greenwich, Connecticut-based brokerage firm Interactive Brokers LLC will pay fines and disgorgement totaling $23.7 million to the SEC and CFTC, as well as a $15 million penalty to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), to resolve allegations related to the firm's anti-money laundering policies.  The SEC penalty of $11.5 million resolves charges that over the course of one year the brokerage failed to file more than 150 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) for U.S. microcap securities trades it executed on behalf of its customers.  The SEC order finds that defendant failed to recognize red flags concerning transactions, failed to properly investigate suspicious activity, and failed to file SARs even when suspicious transactions were flagged by compliance personnel. The $11.5 CFTC penalty, together with over $700,000 in restitution, resolves charges including that the firm, which is a registered futures commission merchant, failed to detect and report suspicious transactions, including in its handling of the accounts of Haena ParkSEC; CFTC

August 6, 2020

South Carolina-based consumer loan company World Acceptance Corporation has been ordered to pay $21 million to resolve allegations of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  According to the SEC, the company’s former Mexican subsidiary, WAC de Mexico S.A. de C.V., paid more than $4 million in bribes to Mexican officials from 2010 to 2017 in order to secure the ability to make loans to government employees, then recorded the payments as legitimate business expenses.  SEC

July 20, 2020

UBS Financial Services Inc. and two of its registered representatives will pay $10 million in penalties, disgorgement, and interest to resolve claims that UBS improperly redirected municipal bond offerings away from retail customers and to “flippers,” who re-sold the bonds to other broker-dealers, including UBS.  This practice allowed UBS to circumvent the priority retail order periods set by bond issuers and improperly obtain a greater allocation of bonds for its own inventory.  SEC

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
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