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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.

June 17, 2020

AmTrust Financial Services Inc. and its former CFO, Ronald E. Pipoly Jr., have agreed to pay the SEC $10 million and $75,000, respectively, to settle charges of failing to properly disclose material facts about how the company estimated insurance losses and reserves, specifically the fact that Pipoly made accounting adjustments that diverged from the company’s actuarial estimates.  The adjustments eventually exceeded $300 million, which impacted all of the company’s reporting.  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

May 15, 2020

Credit rating agency Morningstar will pay $3.5 million to settle charges that it violated conflict of interest rules by having credit rating analysts in its asset-backed securities group engage in marketing to issuers, including offering to provide indicative ratings.  SEC rules prohibit rating agencies from issuing or maintaining a credit rating where an analyst who participates in determining or monitoring credit ratings also participates in sales and marketing activity, and require agencies to have policies to address conflicts of interest.  SEC

May 4, 2020

The SEC has granted a nearly $2 million award to a whistleblower whose early tip allowed the agency to freeze assets associated with fraudulent conduct, prevent the dissipation of investor funds and allow investors to recover most of their money.  The whistleblower’s tip also ultimately led to a successful enforcement action.  SEC

April 28, 2020

An anonymous whistleblower will receive $18 million based on a successful enforcement action by the SEC.  The whistleblower’s SEC submission, which was made after the individual repeatedly reported the problem internally, initiated the SEC investigation resulting in the recovery.  SEC

April 16, 2020

The SEC has announced that its largest whistleblower award so far this year and sixth largest overall since the inception of its whistleblower program has been awarded to an individual who alerted the agency to fraud that was partly committed overseas.  The whistleblower, who will receive $27 million, reportedly contributed significantly to the agency’s enforcement efforts by providing critical investigative leads.  SEC
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