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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.

January 29, 2014

The SEC charged St. Louis-based Scottrade with failing to provide the agency with complete and accurate information about trades done by the firm and its customers, which is commonly called “blue sheet” data.  The company agreed to settle the charges by paying a $2.5M penalty and admitting it violated the recordkeeping provisions of the federal securities laws.  SEC

January 27, 2014

The SEC sanctioned California-based investment adviser Western Asset Management Company, a subsidiary of Legg Mason,  for concealing investor losses that resulted from a coding error and engaging in cross trading that favored some clients over others.  The company agreed to pay more than $21M to settle the SEC’s charges as well as a related matter by the DOJ. SEC

January 24, 2014

The SEC charged public accounting firm KPMG with violating rules that require auditors to remain independent from the public companies they’re auditing to ensure they maintain their objectivity and impartiality.   An SEC investigation found that KPMG broke auditor independence rules by providing prohibited non-audit services such as bookkeeping and expert services to affiliates of companies whose books they were auditing.  Some KPMG personnel also owned stock in companies or affiliates of companies that were KPMG audit clients.  KPMG agreed to pay $8.2M to settle the SEC’s charges.  SEC

January 9, 2014

The SEC charged San Francisco-based snack foods company Diamond Foods and its former CFO in an accounting scheme to falsify walnut costs in order to boost earnings and meet estimates by stock analysts.  Diamond Foods agreed to pay $5M to settle the SEC’s charges.  SEC

January 9, 2014

The SEC charged global aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) when its subsidiaries repeatedly paid bribes, collectively valued at more than $110M,  to government officials in Bahrain to maintain a key source of business.  Alcoa agreed to settle the SEC’s charges and a parallel criminal case by the DOJ for $384M.  SEC

July 17, 2015

The SEC announced its 18th whistleblower award since the program’s inception – this one for over $3 million, the third highest to date.  This puts the award total at over $50 million.
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