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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 4, 2019

Chicago-based Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), the registered clearing agency for exchange-listed option contracts on equities, will pay $15 million in penalties to the SEC and $5 million in penalties to the CFTC to resolve allegations that it failed to comply with regulations related to clearing agency standards.  As a systemically important financial market utility (SIFMU), OCC is subject to SEC and CFTC regulations regarding the implementation and management of risk management systems, to reduce the risk of disruption in OCC's operations, and allegedly failed to comply with those standards, including through changing policies without obtaining SEC approval.  SEC; CFTC

August 29, 2019

Technology company Juniper Networks, Inc., will pay $11.7 million to resolve alleged FCPA violations in its Russian and Chinese subsidiaries.  The company allegedly provided entertainment to customers including government officials, recording the expenses in off-book accounts or misrepresenting the nature of the meetings.  The SEC order also found that Juniper violated internal accounting controls and recordkeeping provisions.  SEC

August 29, 2019

The SEC announced that a whistleblower has been awarded $1.8 million for reporting misconduct committed abroad.  According to the SEC, the whistleblower’s tip and extensive cooperation—including providing ongoing information, document review, and sworn testimony—were critically important to bringing about a significant enforcement action.  SEC

August 16, 2019

Brokers Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. and BMO Capital Markets Corporation will pay, respectively, $647,000 and $3.9 million to resolve allegations that they marketed pre-released American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) when they should have known that the transactions were not backed by foreign shares.  SEC

August 16, 2019

In a consent judgment, Hani Zeini, formerly the CEO of California-based silicone breast implant company Sientra, Inc., has been ordered to pay a $160,000 civil penalty to settle charges that he concealed damaging news in advance of a $60 million stock offering by the company in 2015.  Specifically, as the offering was preparing to close, Zeini learned that the Brazilian company that was Sientra's sole source for implants had lost a regulatory approval, but concealed that information from the underwriter and the company's general counsel.  When the news became public the day after the offering closed, Sientra's stock price fell over 50%.  SEC

August 13, 2019

The SEC has charged and fined a New York broker-dealer, Canaccord Genuity LLC, of enabling over-the-counter (OTC) securities to be traded without adequate review required by the Exchange Act Rule 15c2-11.  Despite playing a critical gatekeeping role of protecting investors from fraud, Canaccord delegated the requisite review to a compliance associate who lacked necessary experience and training.  Canaccord has consented to the SEC’s cease and desist order, revised internal policies and procedures, and agreed to pay a $250,000 penalty.  SEC

July 24, 2019

Facebook Inc. has agreed to pay a $100 million SEC penalty to resolve charges that its public disclosures omitted material information about a third party's misuse of Facebook user data.  Facebook's disclosures presented the risk of misuse of user data as hypothetical when Facebook knew in 2015 that, in fact, Cambridge Analytica and a researcher had collected and transferred data on approximately 30 million Americans.  Furthermore, when media investigations of Cambridge Analytical began, Facebook misleadingly stated that it had discovered no evidence of wrongdoing by Cambridge Analytica.  SEC

July 23, 2019

An international whistleblower has been awarded half a million dollars for helping the SEC with a successful enforcement action.  Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the whistleblower’s identity was not revealed.  SEC

July 22, 2019

Microsoft’s Hungarian subsidiary, Microsoft Magyarország Számítástechnikai Szolgáltató és Kereskedelmi Kft., has agreed to pay a $8.7 million to the DOJ and $16.6 million to the SEC to settle allegations of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  From 2013 to 2015, executives at Microsoft Hungary falsely represented to Microsoft that steep discounts were necessary for resellers of software licenses to the Hungarian government.  However, the resellers did not pass on the discounts to the Hungarian government, and used them for instead unspecified corrupt purposes.  DOJ; USAO SDNY; SEC

July 18, 2019

Swapnil Rege, who worked as a portfolio manager for a hedge fund that operated as a commodity pool operator, was been ordered by the CFTC  and SEC to pay a $100,000 civil penalty and disgorge a $600,000 performance bonus he received as a result of his fraudulent mismarking the valuations of interest rate swaps.  The mismarking, accomplished through various means, artifically inflated the profitability of his trades, earning him a larger performance bonus.  SEC, CFTC
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