Articles Posted in Securities Law

by
The SEC filed suit against defendant, alleging violations of the registration provisions of the Securities Act, 15 U.S.C. 77a et seq., and fraud in the sale of securities in violation of the Securities and Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq. The court awarded summary judgment to the SEC, finding no merit in defendant's affirmative defenses. A jury found defendant liable on the fraud claims. The court concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the SEC because it found the Banyon note offerings were not eligible for a Regulation D exemption from the registration requirements of Section 5 of the Securities Act. The court held that Rule 508(a) not only preserves the safe harbor for certain insignificant deviations in private actions, but it also preserves the safe harbor in SEC enforcement actions. In this case, the court reasoned that defendant established a genuine dispute of material fact whether the Banyon note offering, as a whole, falls under the safe harbor provision in Rule 508. The court also concluded that defendant failed to show serious prejudice to his case from the district court's denial of the motion for continuance; the district court properly based the disgorgement order upon defendant's gains and not the investors' losses; and the district court did not plainly err in questioning defendant and another witness during trial. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "SEC v. Levin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

by
In February 2014, appellant-plaintiff Glynn Hotz purchased 16,000 shares of appellee-defendant Galectin Therapeutics, Inc. (“Galectin”), a small biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Norcross, Georgia. The price for Galectin common stock was $17.90 per share. In July 2014, news outlets began to report that Galectin had paid promotional firms to write flattering articles about Galectin and to “tout” Galectin’s stock price. Days later, Galectin’s stock price crashed, losing over half its value, falling from a price of $15.91 per share to $7.10 per share in one day. After suffering stock losses, Hotz filed a consolidated class action complaint against Galectin in May 2015. Hotz appealed the district court’s Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of his complaint for failure to state a claim. Hotz argued: (1) that Galectin made material misstatements and omissions of fact by not disclosing that it had paid the promotional firms to tout Galectin stock; and (2) that certain Galectin officers and directors were liable for the company’s actions in their personal capacity as “controlling persons” of Galectin under section 20(a) of the Exchange Act. After thorough review, and with the benefit of oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit found no reversible error and affirmed. View "Hotz v. Galectin Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In the aftermath of Bernard Madoff's arrrest, the district court appointed a trustee for the liquidation of BLMIS, Madoff's investment advisory business. Several class actions were filed against JPMorgan by customers who directly had capital invested with BLMIS. JPMorgan entered a global resolution on January 6, 2014, involving three settlements. This putative class action seeks to hold liable JPMorgan and two JPMorgan employees: John Hogan, who served as Chief Risk Officer and later Chairman of Risk for JPMorgan, and Richard Cassa, who served as Client Relationship Manager for one of Madoff’s accounts. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. The court affirmed the judgment, finding that appellants' Section 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78t(a), claim was untimely and that appellants' federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961, claim was barred by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c). View "Dusek v. JPMorgan Chase & Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

by
Congress set forth a detailed process for exclusive judicial review of final Commission orders in the federal courts of appeals. An SEC administrative enforcement action culminates in a final order of the Commission, which in turn is reviewable exclusively by the appropriate federal court of appeals under 15 U.S.C. 78y. At issue in this consolidated appeal is whether respondents in an SEC administrative enforcement action can bypass the Securities Exchange Act’s, 15 U.S.C. 78u(d), 78u-1, 78u-2, 78u-3, review scheme by filing a collateral lawsuit in federal district court challenging the administrative proceeding on constitutional grounds. From the text of the statute, the court could fairly discern Congress’s general intent to channel all objections to a final Commission order - including challenges to the constitutionality of the SEC ALJs or the administrative process itself - into the administrative forum and to preclude parallel federal district court litigation. The court found no indication that respondents’ constitutional challenges are outside the type of claims that Congress intended to be reviewed within this statutory scheme. Accordingly, the district court erred in exercising jurisdiction and the court vacated the district court’s preliminary injunction orders and remanded with instructions to dismiss each case for lack of jurisdiction. View "Hill, Jr. v. SEC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

by
The SEC waited more than five years to commence an action for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and disgorgement against defendants, who allegedly violated federal securities law by selling unregistered securities. Defendants raised the five-year statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in their motions for summary judgment. The district court dismissed the case based on the statute of limitations set out in 28 U.S.C. 2462. Section 2462, with few exceptions, bars the government from bringing suit to enforce “any civil fine, penalty, or forfeiture” after five years from when the claim first accrued. The court concluded that the SEC is time-barred from proceeding with its claims for declaratory relief and disgorgement because, under the plain meaning of section 2462, these remedies are a penalty and a forfeiture, respectively. But, because an injunction is not a penalty under section 2462, the court remanded for further proceedings on that remedy. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "SEC v. Graham" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against Stiefel Labs and its president, Charles Stiefel, on several grounds, including a violation of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5. Plaintiff requested that the jury instructions, in order to prevail on a claim under Rule 10b-5(b), require plaintiff to prove only that defendants failed to disclose material information. The district court refused to include the jury instruction. The court concluded that plaintiff's jury instruction misstated the law because Rule 10b-5(b) does not prohibit a mere failure to disclose material information. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Fried v. Stiefel Labs., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

by
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought a civil enforcement action against defendants Big Apple Consulting USA, Inc., MJMM Investments, LLC, Marc Jablon, and Mark Kaley (collectively, defendants) for violations of the Securities Act of 1933, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The SEC's allegations stemmed from the defendants' relationship with CyberKey Solutions, Inc. and its CEO James Plant. CyberKey sold customizable USB drives that could be loaded with encryption software to secure content stored on the drives. CyberKey's stock traded on a website called "Pink Sheets." Kaley executed a consulting agreement with CyberKey on behalf of MJMM, in which MJMM agreed to provide services intended to promote CyberKey's business. At first, there was no demand for CyberKey stock, but that changed when Plant began reporting fabricated contracts. A fake contract purportedly with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "was a game changer." CyberKey publicized the DHS contract in several press released; MSI drafted the press release and Big Apple was listed as the primary contact. The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD - now known as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)), sent a fax to Plant informing him that it was reviewing CyberKey's trading activity. NASD requested that CyberKey provide it with the "documents and information" concerning: (1) the DHS contract; (2) an explanation of how the DHS contract was negotiated; (3) a list of CyberKey's contacts at DHS; and (4) details of CyberKey's relationship with Big Apple. Plant e-mailed the fax to Jablon and Kaley, and they advised Plant to have his securities attorney handle the matter. Jablon and Kaley did not follow up on the status of the inquiry. In early 2007, the SEC issued an order suspending the trading of CyberKey stock due to concerns as to the accuracy of assertions made by CyberKey and others in press releases and public statements to investors. Over the course of the defendants' relationship with CyberKey, Big Apple and MJMM sold more than a combined 720 million CyberKey shares for approximately $7.8 million. During the time that CyberKey was a client, it was one of the top five most actively traded stocks on Pink Sheets. The SEC filed its complaint in federal court and alleged that the defendants "knew, or were severely reckless in not knowing, that CyberKey did not have a $25 million purchase order from the DHS or any other [f]ederal government agency, and thus had very little legitimate revenue at all." Nonetheless, the defendants "persisted in promoting CyberKey and selling hundreds of millions of unregistered CyberKey shares to unsuspecting investors." The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the SEC as to some of the claims, and the remainder of the claims proceeded to trial. A jury found in favor of the SEC as to the remaining claims against all defendants. Defendants raised six errors on appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. But finding no reversible error, the Court affirmed the trial court's decision and the jury's verdict. View "U.S. Securities & Exchange Comm'n v. Big Apple Consulting USA, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

by
The plaintiffs in this case, Carlos Zelaya and George Glantz, were victims of one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history: the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by R. Allen Stanford. Plaintiffs were taken by surprise, yet, according to Plaintiffs, the federal agency entrusted with the duty of trying to prevent, or at least reveal, Ponzi schemes was not all that surprised. To the contrary, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), had been alerted over a decade before that Stanford was likely running a Ponzi operation. According to Plaintiffs, notwithstanding its knowledge of Stanford’s likely nefarious dealings, the SEC dithered for twelve years, "content not to call out Stanford and protect future investors from his fraud." And though the SEC eventually took action in 2009, many people lost most of their investments. Pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, Plaintiffs sued the United States in federal court, alleging that the SEC had acted negligently. The federal government moved to dismiss, arguing that it enjoyed sovereign immunity from the lawsuit. The district court agreed, and dismissed Plaintiffs’ case. Plaintiffs appealed that dismissal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In reviewing the district court’s dismissal, the Court reached no conclusions as to the SEC’s conduct, or whether the latter’s actions deserved Plaintiffs’ condemnation. The Court did, however, conclude that the United States was shielded from liability for the SEC’s alleged negligence in this case. The Court therefore affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the Plaintiffs’ complaint. View "Zelaya v. United States" on Justia Law

by
An interlocutory appeal before the Eleventh Circuit centered on an order granting motions to dismiss by two defendants in a securities class action against Jiangbo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., its principal officers, and its audit firm. Jiangbo came into existence as a U.S. corporation in 2007 when its Chinese operational arm, Laiyang Jiangbo, executed a reverse merger with a Florida shell company. Jiangbo's tenure as a public company "was short and fraught with suspicion of misconduct." Shares began trading on NASDAQ on June 8, 2010 and traded on that exchange for just under a year. Only six months after trading began, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated an informal, non-public investigation into Jiangbo. The company's fortunes unraveled quickly soon thereafter, and the SEC formalized its investigation, which remained non-public. Jiangbo made two significant disclosures in late May 2011 that marked the culmination of its decline: it publicly acknowledged the formal SEC investigation for the first time and reported that the company had defaulted on a relatively small principal payment toward debt from its initial financing. Trading ended days later on May 31, 2011, by which time the share price had fallen from a class-period high of $10.49 per share to $3.08. By November 2011, after Jiangbo had moved to another exchange, its shares were trading for just $0.14. The investors' consolidated amended complaint alleged, inter alia, that Elsa Sung (the former Chief Financial Officer) and Frazer LLP (the external auditor) misrepresented the company's cash balances and failed to disclose a material related-party transaction in statements within or appurtenant to those filings, in violation of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act. The district court found that the investors failed to sufficiently plead their allegations of fraud against defendants Sung and Frazer LLP ("Frazer"). Applying the heightened pleading standard imposed by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act ("PSLRA"), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court. View "Brophy v. Jiangbo Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

by
A 2004 judgment entered against John Zelaya was rendered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and was registered in the Southern District of Florida. ZC was not party to the suit that led to the judgment and, instead, the prevailing parties assigned their interests in the judgment to ZC. ZC then sought a writ of execution against Zelaya from the Southern District of Florida. In 2010, Zelaya deposited the full amount of the judgment into the district court's registry where the district court then dissolved writs of garnishment against all of the banks at issue, granted Zelaya's motion for a satisfaction judgment, and awarded attorney fees and costs to Deutsche Bank. The court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the consolidated appeal; the district court did not err in allowing Zelaya to deposit the disputed funds into the court's registry; the district court did not err in granting Zelaya's motion for a satisfaction of the judgment; the district court did not err in its award of attorney fees and costs to Deutsche Bank; and, therefore, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Zelaya/Capital Int'l Judgment, LLC v. Zelaya, et al." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Securities Law