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This Week in SEC Enforcement Activity

State of Illinois Charged With Misleading Muni Bond Investors

The SEC charged the state of Illinois with failing to inform municipal bond investors of potential issues with its pension funding plan. The state failed to disclose that its pension obligations were at risk of “structural underfunding” issues associated with the state’s statutory funding plan, and misrepresented the overall risk associated with the pension’s financial condition.  Illinois offered $2.2 billion in bonds during 2005 to 2009.…

SEC Enforcement Activity: March 4-8

Mark Cuban Insider Trading Case Set For Trial

Mark Cuban, the charismatic owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, lost his attempt to dismiss the SEC’s insider trading case against him, sending it to trial. The district court judge in Dallas said the ruling was “in some respects a close one.” Mr. Cuban is charged in connection with a 2004 sale of his stock in Mamma.com, allegedly after learning non-public information about an upcoming equity offering.  Read the original complaint here.…

SEC Enforcement Activity: Feb. 11- 15

Second Circuit Hears Oral Argument on SEC-Citigroup Settlement

Last November, a federal judge in New York rejected a proposed settlement between the SEC and Citigroup in connection with charges of misleading investors at the beginning of the financial crisis. This week the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case, which saw the SEC and Citigroup join forces against the District Court. Jim Hamilton has a good analysis of the proceedings here. …

SEC Enforcement Activity: Jan. 14-18

SEC Settles with Pond Securities In Market Manipulation Case

Four defendants – Andreas Badian, Jeffrey Graham, Pond Securities, and Ezra Birnbaum – agreed to settle charges of market manipulation, the SEC announced this week. In a complaint filed in April 2006, the SEC alleged that the defendants manipulated the stock of Sedona Corporation and violated record-keeping rules by falsely creating trade tickets. Without admitting or denying the allegations, the defendants agreed to disgorgement of profits and civil penalties of over $700,000. 

Read the SEC release here.…

SEC Enforcement Activity: Dec. 24-28

Following the short holiday week, below are notable developments in SEC enforcement activity for the week of Dec. 24-28. 

Insider Trading: One More Charged for IBM-SPSS Merger Scheme

The SEC has charged another broker for taking part in an insider trading scheme connected to IBM’s acquisition of SPSS. Trent Martin learned of the impending merger from an attorney friend working on the deal, who confided in Martin for “moral support, reassurance, and advice,” according to the SEC complaint. Martin allegedly purchased SPSS shares the first day he learned of the deal, then tipped his roommate, Thomas Conradt, who was charged earlier this month.  

Read the SEC complaint here.…

SEC Enforcement Activity Round-Up

Below are notable developments in SEC enforcement activity for the week of December 3-7, 2012.

Big Lots CEO Resigns Amidst SEC Inquiry

The CEO of Central Ohio-based Big Lots (NYSE: BIG) is under scrutiny by the SEC surrounding his sale of over $10 million in company stock prior to a negative quarterly earnings report. Big Lots stock fell 24 percent as a result of the April 2012 earnings report. Steven Fishman will retire as soon as a replacement is found, after serving as CEO since 2005.

Article here.

Chinese Affiliates of Big Four Accounting Firms Charged For Refusing To Produce Documents

The SEC announced charges this week against the Chinese affiliates of the Big Four accounting firms for refusing to produce audit records for Chinese companies under investigation for violations of accounting fraud. According to the SEC’s administrative order, the four firms (as well as BDO) have refused to cooperate with the SEC investigations for months. For the Shanghai office of Deloitte & Touche, these recent charges are similar to those brought by the SEC in May  and September.

See the order here.…

SEC Enforcement Activity Round-Up

Below are updates on notable SEC enforcement activity from the week of November 26-30, 2012:

“White-Out” Firm Found Guilty

Jeffrey Liskov and his firm, EagleEye Asset Management, LLC were found guilty of securities fraud by a jury in Boston. The Plymouth, MA firm was found guilty of misleading investors by misrepresenting the risks associated with investments in the foreign currency exchange (“forex”) market. 

The Commission alleged that Liskov and EagleEye persuaded “older” clients to shift investments from low-risk securities into high-risk forex positions based on misleading information. Despite racking up huge losses for the clients, Liskov earned over $300,000 in performance fees. Among the allegations were that Liskov used “white-out” to change names and dates on forms in order to, among other things, fraudulently transfer client assets into forex trading accounts. 

After four hours of deliberation, the jury found Liskov and EagleEye liable for violations of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, Rule 10b-5, and the Advisers Act. 

For more, read the SEC Release

Insider Trading: Oil Company CEO Charged

Former CEO of Denver-based oil company Delta Petroleum Corporation was charged with insider trading. In the run-up to California-based investment firm Tracinda taking a 35% stake in Delta, former CEO Roger Parker tipped a close friend, who in turn tipped friends and family, according to the SEC complaint. Delta’s stock rose 20% in value once the Tracinda investment was announced. The complaint also alleges Parker provided early insights into a positive earnings report. The SEC obtained emails and phone records in connection with the alleged tipping.…