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  • Judge Dismisses Most Of SEC’s Suit Against An IT Management Software Company Over Cybersecurity Disclosures

    On July 18, 2024, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a comprehensive 107-page opinion that may have significant implications for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) enforcement strategy for alleged disclosure and accounting and disclosure controls violations by public companies and their executives. In particular, the decision may affect the Enforcement Division’s efforts to extend the application of existing requirements for public companies to maintain a system of internal controls over financial reporting to cover situations that are not directly related to financial reporting or accounting matters. 

  • SEC v. Panuwat – Northern District Of California Jury Endorses SEC’s “Shadow Trading” Theory

    On April 5, 2024, a jury in the Northern District of California found that Matthew Panuwat had misappropriated his employer’s confidential information and committed insider trading. The closely followed case represented the SEC’s first action under the so-called “shadow trading” theory. The SEC alleged that Panuwat possessed material nonpublic information (“MNPI”) that his employer, Medivation, would soon be acquired by Pfizer. The SEC further alleged that this information influenced his decision to purchase call options in a Medivation competitor—Incyte Corporation—because Panuwat believed the announcement of the Medivation acquisition would increase the stock prices of competitors. Despite the almost certain appeal of this decision to the Ninth Circuit, this verdict could strengthen the SEC’s resolve to bring more claims under the shadow trading theory and leaves open questions concerning whether legal and compliance officers should revise their insider trading policies and procedures to account for this development.

    Categories : 10b-5Insider TradingSEC
  • SEC Announces $25 Million Enforcement Action Over Company’s Use Of Stock Buyback Plans That SEC Alleged Failed To Comply With Rule 10b5-1

    On November 14, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced a settled enforcement action against Charter Communications, Inc. (“Company”) imposing a $25 million civil penalty over allegations that the Company had used stock buyback plans that did not comport with Rule 10b5-1 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  The SEC claimed that the Company’s stock buyback plans did not comport with Rule 10b5-1 because the plans contained provisions that allowed the Company to change the total dollar amounts available to buy back stock and the timing of buybacks after the plans took effect; and while Rule 10b5-1 is a safe harbor rather than a standard that must be met, the SEC alleged that the use of buyback plans that did not meet the Rule 10b5-1 standard evidenced insufficient accounting controls in violation of Section 13(b)(2)(B) of the Exchange Act.
  • DOJ And SEC Charge Individual For Insider Trading Through Use Of 10b5-1 Trading Plans

    On March 1, 2023, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) unsealed an indictment against the founder, CEO, and Chairman of a publicly traded health care company (the “Company”), alleging that he had illegally executed trades pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 trading plans while in possession of material nonpublic information. The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a concurrent civil suit against defendant for the same activity. In each case, the government alleged that defendant improperly used his 10b5-1 plans by entering into them while in possession of material nonpublic information and triggering sales shortly thereafter, without any form of cooling-off period.
    Categories : 10b-5DOJInsider TradingSEC
  • SEC Charged McDonald’s For Public Disclosure Violations Related To The Board’s Exercise Of Discretion Respecting The Former CEO’s Termination And Charged The Former CEO For Fraud

    On January 9, 2023, the Securities Exchange Commission issued a cease-and-desist order against McDonald’s Corporation and the Company’s former CEO Stephen Easterbrook related to Easterbrook’s departure. The SEC’s order alleged that the Company failed to disclose in a Form 8-K that it exercised discretion in terminating Easterbrook “without cause,” and allowed him to retain more than $40 million in equity-based compensation that would have been forfeited if the company had terminated him “for cause;” and further alleged that Easterbrook withheld information about his relationships with Company employees in an internal investigation. Without admitting or denying the findings, the Company and Easterbrook consented to the entry of the Order. See In re Easterbrook & McDonald’s Corp., No. 3-21269 (Jan. 9, 2023).
    Categories : 10b-5Enforcement ActionsSEC
  • SEC And DOJ Bring First Ever Charges For Cryptocurrency Insider Trading Tipping Scheme

    On July 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) unsealed an indictment against Ishan Wahi, a former Coinbase employee, his brother, Nikhil Wahi, and friend, Sameer Ramani, for alleged insider trading.  SEC v. Ihan Wahi, Nikhil Wahi, and Sameer Ramani, 2:22-cv01009 (W.D. Wa. July 21, 2022); United States v. Ishan Wahi, Nikhil Wahi, and Sameer Ramani, 22-cr-392 (S.D.N.Y. 2022).  Both the complaint and indictment concern the same underlying conduct by Wahi, who allegedly provided dozens of tips to his brother and friend over several months to purchase certain digital assets tied to cryptocurrencies (the “digital assets”) shortly before they were publicly listed on Coinbase’s exchange.