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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 23, 2014

Barclays Capital Inc. agreed to pay $15 million for allegedly failing to maintain an adequate internal compliance system to ensure the firm did not run afoul of any federal securities laws after its wealth management business in the U.S. acquired the advisory business of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.  SEC

September 22, 2014

Wells Fargo Advisors LLC agreed to pay $5 million to settle charges it failed to maintain adequate controls to prevent one of its employees from insider trading based on a customer’s nonpublic information.  The SEC also charged Wells Fargo for unreasonably delaying its production of documents during the SEC’s investigation and providing an altered internal document related to a compliance review of the broker’s trading.  This was the first time the SEC brought charges against a broker-dealer for failing to protect a customer’s material nonpublic information.  SEC

September 22, 2014

The SEC announced an expected whistleblower award of more than $30 million.  It will be the largest award to date under the SEC whistleblower program established in 2012 under the Dodd-Frank Act.  It surpasses the $14 million award the SEC made roughly a year ago.  The new award will also be the fourth award to a whistleblower living in a foreign country.  Whistleblower Insider

September 22, 2014

New York-based investment advisory firm Lincolnshire Management agreed to pay more than $2.3 million to settle charges of breaching its fiduciary duty to a pair of private equity funds by sharing expenses between a company in one’s portfolio and a company in the other’s portfolio in a manner that improperly benefited one fund over the other.  SEC

September 19, 2014

The SEC charged Brooklyn resident Frank Tamayo with facilitating a $5.6 million insider trading scheme that typically involved the passing of illegal tips via napkins or post-it notes at Grand Central Terminal.  The SEC alleges that Tamayo received material nonpublic information from Steven Metro about 13 impending corporate deals involving clients of the law firm where Metro worked.  Tamayo then tipped his stockbroker Vladimir Eydelman, who used the confidential information to illegally trade for himself and for Tamayo and other customers.  SEC

September 18, 2014

Investment advisory firm Strategic Capital Group LLC agreed to pay nearly $600,000 to settle SEC charges it engaged in hundreds of principal transactions through its affiliated broker-dealer without informing clients or obtaining their consent.  The SEC also charged the company with distributing false and misleading advertisements to investors.  SEC

September 17, 2014

The SEC charged Sean C. Cooper, former hedge fund manager at San Francisco-based investment advisory firm WestEnd Capital Management LLC , with fraudulently taking excess management fees from the accounts of fund clients and using their money to remodel his multi-million dollar home and buy a Porsche.  WestEnd, which expelled Cooper and reimbursed the hedge fund once it became aware of his scheme, is being charged separately by the SEC for failing to effectively supervise him.  The firm agreed to pay a $150,000 penalty to settle the SEC’s charges.  SEC

September 17, 2014

New York-based high frequency trading firm Latour Trading LLC agreed to pay a $16 million penalty to settle charges it violated the net capital rule that requires all broker-dealers to maintain minimum levels of net liquid assets or net capital.  It is the largest penalty ever for violations of the net capital rule.  SEC

September 16, 2014

The SEC secured an emergency asset freeze againstAbatement Corp. Holding Company Limited, located in Turks and Caicos Islands, in connection with its operation of a South Florida-based Ponzi scheme.  The SEC’s complaint alleged that Abatement Corp. and its now-deceased principal Joseph Laurer falsely promised investors safe, guaranteed returns while instead engaging in a Ponzi scheme.  According to the SEC, Laurer, who was a member of the City of Homestead’s General Employee Pension Board and president of the South Dade chapter of AARP, raised more than $4.6 million from approximately 50 investors residing primarily in South Florida.  SEC

September 16, 2014

The SEC charged Dimitry Braverman, a senior information technology professional at the international law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, with insider trading ahead of several mergers and acquisitions involving firm clients being advised on the deals.  The SEC alleged Braverman used his access to nonpublic information in the firm’s client-related databases and garnered more than $300,000 in illicit profits by trading in advance of merger announcements.  Braverman began by insider trading in accounts in his own name, but shifted course when a lawyer at his firm was charged by the SEC and criminal authorities in an entirely separate insider trading scheme.  After immediately liquidating the remaining securities that he had purchased on the basis of nonpublic information, Braverman waited about 18 months and then continued his insider trading in a brokerage account held in the name of a relative living in Russia.  His concealment efforts failed, however, when SEC investigators were able to dissect a suspicious pattern of trades and trace them back to Braverman.  SEC
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