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CALIFORNIA CORPORATE & SECURITIES LAW

SEC Continues To Pay Out Millions In Secrecy

Earlier this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced awards to three whistleblowers totaling more than $7 million.  That is about all anyone can say about the awards.  The SEC’s order is only 448 words long, including numerous occurrences of the word “redacted”.  It doesn’t name the company or describe the nature of the investment scheme. Even…

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Is This SEC Claim False And Misleading?

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced yet another whistleblower award.  According to the SEC, the award totals more than $5.5 million dollars.  Tellingly, we don’t, and won’t, know the exact amount.  The headline to the SEC’s press release pegs the number at $5.5 million while the order itself reads: Claimant shall receive an award of [Redacted] percent [Redacted]…

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SEC Hands Out Millions While Leaving The Public In The Dark

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a press release announcing its decision to award $20 million “to a whistleblower who promptly came forward with valuable information that enabled the SEC to move quickly and initiate an enforcement action against wrongdoers before they could squander the money.”  That is about all the public will…

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A New Regulatory Paradigm For The SEC?

Many are speculating on the future of federal securities regulation as a result of the election of Donald J. Trump and the concomitant Republican control of both houses of Congress. Broc Romanek, for example, asks whether Michael S. Piwowar will become the SEC’s next Chairman.  Broc notes that Commissioner Piwowar is an economist, not a lawyer. …

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Five Propositions Concerning The SEC Whistleblower Program

Congress, not the Securities and Exchange Commission, established the whistleblower program six years ago as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  As the program has awarded over $100 million to date, it merits a critical analysis and review. Accordingly, I propose the following five propositions for consideration and debate: The whistleblower program…

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Is This The SEC Or The Lotto?

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission trumpeted that whistleblower awards have now exceeded $100 million, or a million Benjamins! “Chance, the loss or gain of a moment” The SEC’s total payout is impressive, but the number of payees is extremely small.  According to the SEC, awards were paid to only 33 persons. Moreover, 77.6% of the…

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Why You May Want To Reconsider Promising Confidentiality To Whistleblowers

In this recent post, I suggested that absolute guarantees of confidentiality to whistleblowers may be counterproductive. In today’s post, I will elaborate on why. The scope of the promise may be unclear.  Often, the promise of confidentiality is as succinct as “All reports and disclosures you make under this Code of Ethics will remain confidential…

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What, If Anything, Impedes The SEC’s Whistleblower Rule?

As I suspected, law firms are churning out memoranda on the SEC’s recent enforcement actions involving alleged impediments to whistleblowers. While accurately, summarizing these actions, I’m not sure that some of the authors have adequately captured the breadth of the rule and the SEC’s even broader reading of the rule. First, the rule itself: (a)…

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Ouch! Proxy Statement Argues That Resolving Dispute In California Court Was “Costly And Time Consuming”

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously told Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.: ““Holmes, when you strike at a king, you must kill him.”  For the full story, see The Corporations Code Can Make Suing Your Former Employees Costly.  I was reminded of this advice when reading the following in the proxy statement of a California-based company in favor…

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How Much Is A Whistleblower Waiver Really Worth?

The Securities and Exchange Commission is aggressively interpreting and enforcing its rule against impeding whistleblowers.  Rule 21F-17(a) provides: No person may take any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the Commission staff about a possible securities law violation, including enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement (other than agreements dealing with…

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