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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.

May 15, 2014

The SEC charged New York-based Rafferty Capital Markets with illegally facilitating trades for another firm that wasn’t registered as a broker-dealer as required under the federal securities laws.  Rafferty agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by disgorging all the profits it received in the arrangement plus interest and a penalty for a total of nearly $850,000.  SEC

May 12, 2014

The SEC filed insider trading charges against three founders of the software company, Lawson Software, for taking unfair advantage of incorrect media speculation and analyst reports about the company’s planned merger with Infor Global Solutions.  They agreed to pay nearly $5.8 million to settle the SEC’s charges.  SEC

May 7, 2014

The SEC announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against New York-based investment advisory firm Aphelion Fund Management, and two executives, for distributing falsified performance results to prospective investors in two hedge funds they managed.  SEC

May 1, 2014

The New York Stock Exchange and two affiliated exchanges along with Archipelago Securities agreed to pay a $4.5M penalty agreed to settle charges that they failed to comply with the responsibilities of self-regulatory organizations (SROs) to conduct their business operations in accordance with SEC-approved exchange rules and the federal securities laws.  SEC

April 30, 2014

The SEC announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against American Pension Services, a Utah-based retirement plan, for defrauding investors in self-directed individual retirement accounts, causing them to lose millions of dollars of savings.  SEC

April 25, 2014

The SEC charged Christopher Saridakis, former CEO of the marketing solutions division of GSI Commerce, with insider trading in advance of eBay’s acquisition of the e-commerce company by tipping off friends and relatives with confidential information about the pending deal so they could attain more than $300,000 in illegal profits.  SEC

April 17, 2014

The SEC charged Massachusetts-based TelexFree for allegedly operating a large pyramid scheme that mainly targeted Dominican and Brazilian immigrants in the US.  According to the SEC’s complaint, the defendants sold securities in the form of TelexFree “memberships” that promised annual returns of 200% or more but the company’s sales revenues of approximately $1.3M from August 2012 through March 2014 are barely one percent of the more than $1.1B needed to cover its promised payments.  SEC

April 17, 2014

The SEC charged Keith Seilhan, a former 20-year employee of BP and a senior responder during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, with insider trading in BP securities based on confidential information about the magnitude of the disaster.  According to the SEC’s complaint, BP tasked Seilhan with coordinating BP’s oil collection and clean-up operations in the Gulf of Mexico and while in possession of material, nonpublic information, and in breach of duties owed to BP and its shareholders, he directed the sale of his family’s entire $1 million portfolio of BP securities over the course of two days in late April 2010.  SEC

April 15, 2014

The SEC charged San Diego-based investment advisory firm Total Wealth Management and its owner and CEO Jacob Cooper with misleading investors and breaching their fiduciary duties to clients by entering into undisclosed revenue sharing agreements through which they paid themselves kickbacks or so-called “revenue sharing fees.”  They failed to disclose to clients the conflicts of interest created by these agreements as they recommended the underlying investments to clients and investors in the Altus family of funds.  SEC

April 9, 2014

The SEC charged Hewlett-Packard with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) when its subsidiaries in Russia, Poland and Mexico made improper payments to government officials to obtain or retain lucrative public contracts.  Hewlett-Packard agreed to pay more than $108M to settle the SEC’s charges and a parallel criminal case by the DOJ.  SEC
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