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Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the closely-watched SEC v. Jarkesy, holding that the SEC could no longer seek civil monetary penalties for fraud in its in-house courts consistent with the Seventh Amendment, which grants the right to a jury trial and thus requires such cases to be heard in federal court. The Supreme Court’s decision has potentially profound implications, not only for the SEC’s regulation of the securities industry, but for dozens of federal administrative agencies that, depending on the authorizing statute, can or must impose civil penalties through administrative proceedings.

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Just barely two weeks ago, we wrote about the half-victory for Ripple Labs in its ongoing litigation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), in which Judge Analisa Torres granted partial summary judgment in favor of Ripple on the issue of whether certain sales of Ripple’s XRP cryptocurrency tokens were “securities” under the federal securities laws. Some in the crypto industry interpreted her ruling to mean that secondary transactions in crypto assets on centralized and decentralized crypto exchanges were not transactions in “securities,” even though Judge Torres expressly declined to address the secondary trading issue. Fast forward to today, and a new ruling out of the SDNY against Terraform Labs casts further doubt on this interpretation.

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In the ever-changing and divisive political climate facing our nation today, boards of directors and the companies they oversee face myriad pressures from numerous stakeholders to weigh in on specific political, cultural, and social issues. Helpfully, a recent decision by the Delaware Chancery Court determined that a board’s decision to utilize the company’s voice and speak out about the pertinent issue is a “business decision” by the Company. 

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Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court solidified the “tracing” requirement for private plaintiffs to be able to assert Section 11 claims pursuant to the Securities Act of 1933, holding that plaintiffs asserting such securities fraud claims must show that they own stock that was issued pursuant to an allegedly misleading registration statement—even though such tracing may be impossible in the context of a direct listing.  In effect, the decision likely protects future direct listings from Section 11 liability so long as the direct listing does not involve a “lock-up period” pursuant to which unregistered and registered shares enter the market at different times.

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On October 26, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission, in a 3-2 vote, adopted a new rule, Exchange Act Rule 10D-1. Rule 10D-1 directs national securities exchanges adopt listing standards to require all issuers establish and enforce policies requiring “clawback” of incentive-based compensation paid to corporate executives when that compensation is based upon the issuer’s meeting misreported financials that later require an accounting restatement.  

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Crypto litigation, fueled by a surge of investors and market volatility, has ballooned in recent years.  For example, numerous securities class actions and government subpoenas followed the May 2022 collapse of the $60 billion Terra network, along with stablecoin TerraUSD and the LUNA token.

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Calls for strong US-based crypto regulation and leadership are growing after the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) announced charges against three men in the "first ever cryptocurrency insider trader tipping scheme." The SEC's decision to charge the same three defendants with securities fraud could have broad implications beyond this case, classifying crypto assets traded on Coinbase as securities.  

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In 2021, approximately on quarter of all federal securities fraud class action lawsuits filed nationwide were against life sciences companies and their officers and directors. These considerations are for directors and officers of life sciences companies looking to manage disclosures and mitigate risk before a suit ever gets filed. 

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The United States Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) announced on March 10, 2021 that it will not enforce certain final rules put into place under President Trump related to environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) investing.
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In a scathing decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Court denied class certification of the Allergan securities class action (“Allergan”). See In re Allergan PLC Sec. Litig., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179371 (S.D.N.Y Sept. 29, 2020).
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The August 20, 2020 decision in In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Mktg., Sales Practices, and Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2672 CRB (JSC) by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (“the Opinion”), dismissing a significant portion of the SEC’s federal securities claims against Volkswagen as having been previously released by the DOJ, serves as an important reminder for why such coordination is important and how defendants may take advantage of the failure to coordinate, as did Volkswagen.
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On September 1, 2020, the Massachusetts Securities Division (“MSD”) began enforcing a new state regulation that holds all broker-dealers and their agents to a fiduciary conduct standard requiring them to “make recommendations and provide investment advice without regard to the financial or any other interest of any party other than the customer”.
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In ruling on Defendants’ motion to dismiss in the FX Opt-Outs Action, Judge Schofield narrowed the antitrust claims, denied dismissal on the basis of forum non conveniens, and denied dismissal of the unjust enrichment claim.
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On June 22, 2020, the Court issued its 8-1 opinion in Liu et al. v. Securities and Exchange Commission, holding that a disgorgement award is “equitable relief” permissible under 15 U. S. C. §78u(d)(5), and, as such, is relief that the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) may properly seek as “appropriate or necessary for the benefit of investors.
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In what will likely be the first of many, the SEC brought an action against a company for false and misleading press releases related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Several State Securities Regulators continue to warn investors of investment scams involving COVID-19.
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