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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 18, 2018

After being charged in March 2018, former Equifax executive Jun Ying has agreed to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest totaling $125,636 to resolve charges that he engaged in insider trading ahead of exposure of Equifax's data breach. Ying's payment obligation will be offset by the $117,117 forfeiture that he has already paid in the parallel criminal case.  SEC

July 16, 2019

AR Capital LLC, together with its founder Nicholas Schorsch and its former CFO Brian Block, have agreed to pay $39 million in disgorgement and interest, as well as penalties totaling $21.75 million, to resolve allegations that they wrongfully inflated incentive fees and took unsupported charges in two separate mergers involving the publicly-traded REIT American Realty Capital Properties, Inc. that AR Capital sponsored and managed.  Defendants allegedly failed to properly disclose their compensation to shareholders.  SEC

July 15, 2019

Nomura Securities, Inc. agreed to provide $25 million to reimburse customers that purchased mortgage-backed securities from Nomura.  The SEC orders find that Nomura traders made false and misleading statements to customers, including about the price at which Nomura bought securities, the amount of profit Nomura would receive on the potential trade, and the current owner of the security.  The SEC furhter alleged that Nomura failed to reasonably supervise its traders.  Nomura, which cooperated in the investigation, will also pay $1.5 million in penalties.  Two individual traders were previously charged by the SEC.  SEC

June 27, 2019

State Street Bank and Trust Company will pay more than $88 million to the SEC to resolve charges that it overcharged its client mutual funds and other registered investment companies.  State Street served as custodian, and the clients agreed to reimburse State Street for specified custodial expenses that State Street incurred on their behalf.  However, State Street overcharged its clients, adding an undisclosed mark-up on the cost of sending financial transactions through the SWIFT network.  SEC

June 20, 2019

To settle charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Walmart Inc. and its Brazilian subsidiary, WMT Brasilia S.a.r.l., have agreed to pay $138 million to the DOJ and $144 million to the SEC, for a combined penalty of $282 million.  According to the DOJ and SEC, Walmart’s alleged failure to implement and maintain adequate internal anti-corruption controls from 2000 to 2011 resulted in bribes to government officials in Brazil, China, India, and Mexico that allowed Walmart’s foreign subsidiaries to open more stores faster.  For cooperating with all investigations and self-disclosing some of the alleged misconduct, Walmart received a reduction of 20-25% off the amount originally owed to the DOJ.  In addition to the monetary penalty, Walmart has agreed to retain an outside compliance monitor for two years.  DOJ, SEC, USAO EDVA

June 18, 2019

Wedbush Securities, Inc., will pay more than $8.1 million to the SEC to resolve charges that the securities company improperly obtained pre-released ADRs from depositary banks when it should have known that neither the firm nor its customers owned the foreign shares needed to support those ADRs.  This practice inflates the total number of a foreign issuer’s tradeable securities.  The SEC further alleged that Wedbush failed to have adequate compliance and training.  The consent order requires the company to pay more than $4.8 million in disgorgement, approximately $800,000 in prejudgment interest, and a civil money penalty of more than $2.4 million.  SEC

June 17, 2019

Audit and accounting firm KPMG LLP will pay a $50 million SEC penalty to resolve charges that the firm revised its audit workpapers in an effort to improve KPMG’s performance in PCAOB inspections planned for the audits in question after wrongfuly obtaining PCAOB lists of inspection targets.  The SEC also found that numerous KPMG audit professionals cheated on internal training exams.  In addition to the penalty, KPMG agreed to undertake specified compliance measures, including the retention of an independent consultant.  Former KPMG officials face individual criminal chargesSEC

June 14, 2019

In the SEC’s largest recovery from a broker for improper ADR practices, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Financial Services LLC (ICBCFS) has agreed to pay more than $42 million for improperly handling pre-released American Depository Receipts (ADRs).  Because ADRs represent foreign shares of a foreign company, they usually require a deposit of a corresponding number of foreign shares, but can be pre-released if certain conditions are met.  ICBCFS allegedly facilitated the early issuance of ADRs in order to allow certain tax-advantaged borrowers to collect dividends without taxes.  This left the door open for abusive practices such as the inflation of securities held by foreign issuers, short selling, and dividend arbitrage.  SEC

June 6, 2019

The SEC has filed a federal court action against Kik Interactive, Inc. The company, which previously offered an online messaging application, raised more than $100 million through the sale of "Kin" tokens, an unregistered digital asset.  Kik marketed the Kin cryptocurrency as an investment which would trade on secondary markets, and which Kik would incorporate in its messaging platform, creating a Kin transaction network both on and off the messaging platform.  According to the SEC's complaint, these Kik platforms did not, in fact, exist.  Kik did not comply with securities registration requirements in offering the Kin tokens for sale, and the SEC alleges that in failing to do so, Kik violated Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933.  SEC

June 3, 2019

The SEC made a $3 million whistleblower award to be shared by multiple anonymous whistleblowers who jointly submitted a tip to the SEC Whistleblower Program regarding their employer.  The tip, reporting an alleged securities law violation that impacted retail investors, led to a successful enforcement action by the SEC.  The SEC also noted that the whistleblowers had undertaken significant efforts to report the issues internally and seek to have them corrected.  SEC
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