Archive | securities law

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Second Circuit Relaxes “Personal Benefit” Requirement for Insider Trading Offenses

This week, in United States v. Martoma, the Circuit held that a “meaningfully close personal relationship” does not need to exist between an insider and a tippee in order to establish an insider trading violation under a “gift theory” of liability. The Circuit reached this conclusion on the ground that the Supreme Court abrogated the holding of United States v. Newman, 773 F.3d 438 (2d Cir. 2014), and thereby relaxed the “personal benefit” requirement necessary to support an insider trading conviction. You can access the Martoma opinion here.

Martoma was convicted of insider trading in violation of 15 U.S.C. §§ 78(b) & 78ff for trading on material, nonpublic information that he received from a neurologist concerning the results of a clinical drug trial. To establish an insider trading violation in this context, the government must prove that the insider stood to personally benefit, “directly or indirectly, from his …


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Categories: insider trading, jury instructions, securities law

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Monday, April 18th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – April 18, 2016

No published opinions today, and only one notable summary order involving an SEC civil enforcement action.

SEC v. DAVID SMITH, LYNN SMITH, et al., Nos. 15-1314-cv(L), 15-1317-cv(con), 15-1354-cv(con) (Summary Order of April 18, 2016) (Pooler, Park, and Livingston). This summary affirmance addressed multiple disgorgement orders by a district court in a civil enforcement action relating to violations of the securities laws.

Defendant David Smith, who was ordered to return $87,433,218 obtained from investors, claimed that collateral estoppel limited the disgorgement amount in the SEC case to the amount awarded in restitution in a preceding criminal action. The court disagreed and noted that the SEC allegations proven spanned from 2003 to 2009, whereas the criminal cases addressed only from 2006 to 2009. In addition, the court declared that disgorgement and restitution are “separate remedies with separate goals, and need not be treated the same.”

Defendants David and Lynn Smith together …

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Categories: securities law

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Categories: securities law

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Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Tipper Gored

United States v. Gansman, No. 10–0731-cr (2d Cir. September 9, 2011) (Cabranes, Chin, CJJ, Keenan, DJ)

From 2005 to 2007, James Gansman, an attorney at Ernst and Young, was having an affair with one Donna Murdoch. Perhaps as part of their “pillow talk,” Gansman – the “tipper” – would pass Murdoch material, non-public information, on which Murdoch – the “tippee” – traded profitably. Gansman was ultimately prosecuted for securities fraud under the “misappropriation” theory – as described by the Supreme Court, this occurs when a defendant misappropriates confidential information for securities trading purposes, in breach of a duty owed to the source of the information.Liability can attach even if the defendant does not trade on it himself.

Gansman, whose defense was that he did not intend to commit securities fraud, sought a jury instruction under SEC Rule 10b5-2, asking the court to instruct that Gansman shared information with Murdoch as …


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Categories: misappropriation theory, securities law, Uncategorized

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Sunday, June 12th, 2011

PC World

Here are two per curiams in white collar cases, decided on the same day.

First, in United States v. Lauerson, No. 09-0255-cr (2d Cir. June 7, 2011) (McLaughlin, Pooler, Sack, CJJ) (per curiam), the circuit agreed that the district court lacked the authority to waive the delinquency and default penalties arising from the defendant’s falling behind on his restitution payments. The relevant statute, 18 U.S.C. § 361, permits courts to, in some circumstances, modify or remit the restitution order itself, but does not permit waiver of those penalties.

And, in United States v. Wolfson, No. 10-2786-cr (2d Cir. June 7, 2011) (Kearse, Pooler, Lynch, CJJ), the court found no error in the jury instructions at a“pump and dump” securities fraud trial. The scheme operated by having corrupt stock brokers selling overvalued stocks, for which they were rewarded with “exorbitant” commissions that they either failed to disclose at all or lied …


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Categories: restitution, securities law, Uncategorized

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Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Lies My Broker Told Me

United States v. Kelley, No. 06-5536-cr (2d Cir. January 5, 2009) (per curiam)

Kevin Kelley, a stock broker, was convicted of securities and wire fraud based on his fraudulent activities with respect to four separate securities. For each of them he would either (1) purchase stocks for his clients without their authorization (2) do so without disclosing his own interest in the company or (3) misappropriate client funds for his own use. Kelley subsequently deceived his clients about the value of their investments by sending them false account statements.

Over his objection, those account statements were admitted into evidence on the securities fraud counts. On appeal, he pursued that claim, again without success. Kelley’s specific argument was that under 15 U.S.C. § 78j – section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 – it is a crime to “employ, in connection with the purchase or sale of any security …


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Categories: Rule 801(d)(2)(D), securities law, Uncategorized

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Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Taking Stock

United States v. Elgindy, No. 06-4081-cr (2d Cir. December 17, 2008) (Sack, Katzmann, CJJ, Rakoff, DJ)

Defendants Elgindy and Royer were convicted of securities fraud-based racketeering counts, as well as related extortion charges relating to a complex stock manipulation scheme. On appeal they challenged, inter alia, venue and the district court’s jury instructions on the securities fraud counts. The circuit affirmed.

The Scheme

In 1998, Elgindy started Pacific Equity, a company that provided information for stock investors. It had a publicly available website that published negative information about publicly traded stocks, while a subscriber-only site profited from this information by advising its subscribers to short-sell those same stocks. In 2000, Elgindy began receiving misappropriated negative law enforcement information about certain stocks from Royer, who was then an FBI agent. Elgindy would pass on this information to his subscribers and instruct them to short the stock before he made the information …


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Categories: manufactured venue, securities law, Uncategorized

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Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Deceptively Simple

United States v. Finnerty, No. 07-1104-cr (2d Cir. July 18, 2008) (Jacobs, Pooler, CJJ, Restani, J)

The New York Stock Exchange functions, essentially, as an auction market. Specialist firms are designated to facilitate the auction of a particular stock by processing the bids to buy and offers to sell it. Specialists also trade for their own firm’s accounts. “Interpositioning” occurs when the specialist interposes himself in the middle of public trades to make a profit for the firm. It is prohibited by NYSE rules.

Defendant Finnerty engaged in thousands of instances of interpositioning, making $4,500,000 in profit for the firm’s account, and thereby inflating his bonus. He was charged with, and convicted of, three counts of securities fraud. After trial, the district court granted his motion for a judgment of acquittal, holding that the government failed to prove that interpositioning was a “deceptive act” under securities law because the government …


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Categories: interpositioning, securities law, Uncategorized

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Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Hollywood Accounting

United States v. Leonard, No. 05-5523-cr (2d Cir. June 11, 2008) (Kearse, Calabresi, Katzmann, CJJ)

In this case, the court concludes that interests in film production companies were “investment contracts,” and hence securities, under federal securities law. It also holds, however, that the district court erred in treating the entire cost of the securities as the loss amount under the guidelines.

Facts

The defendants ran sales offices that peddled interests in LLC’s formed to finance the production and distribution of motion pictures. Potential investors were solicited over the phone and, if they expressed an interest, would be sent offering materials, including brochures, operating agreements, and other such documents. Investors could purchase $10,000 “units” by completing and mailing back a subscription agreement.

The defendants’ sales offices would receive a commission of around 45% for each unit sold. This was the fraud – although the offering materials indicated that a commission would …


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Categories: loss calculation, securities law, Uncategorized

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