This Week In Securities Litigation (Week of May 1, 2023)
Last week the Commission did not file any new enforcement actions, contrary to what they have done for weeks. There is no doubt however as we have repeatedly noted in this space that the number of cases is not determinative of the program. That is clearly the case here in view of recent results discussed in this space. The agency did resolve two previously filed actions while extending the comment period for one pending set of rules and publishing a Risk Alert from the Division of Examinations.
Be careful; be safe this week.
Comment period: The Commission reopened the comment period for Proposed Rule Amendments to Modernize Beneficial Ownership Reporting. The staff of the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis released a memorandum that provides supplemental data and analysis regarding the proposed amendments. The new comment period extends until June 27, 2023, or until 30 days after the date of publication of the reopening release in the Federal Register, according to the April 22, 2023 release (here).
Risk Alert: The Division of Examinations published a new risk alert titled Safeguarding Customer Records and Information at Branch Offices, on April 26, 2023 (here).
SEC Enforcement – Filed and Settled Actions
Statistics: Last week the SEC filed no civil injunctive actions and n0 administrative proceeding, excluding 12j and tag-along proceedings as well as those presenting conflicts for the author (which are counted in the totals).
Financial fraud: SEC v. SAExploration Holdings, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-08423 (S.D.N.Y.) is a previously filed action which named as defendants Jeffrey Hastings, the company and three others. The amended complaint alleged that Mr. Hastings, while CEO of the company, participated in a multi-year fraud which falsely inflated revenue. Specifically, the firm recorded about $100 million in revenue from a series of acquisition contracts with a supposedly unrelated Alaska based firm that could not pay and that was controlled by Mr. Hastings and a co-defendant. Defendant Hastings, with assistance from others, also misappropriated about $12 million from SAE and routed about half of it back to SAE to make it appear the Alaska company actually was making payments as required. Mr. Hastings resolve the action, consenting to the entry of a permanent injunction which the Court entered based on Exchange Act Sections 10(b), 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), 13(b)(2)(B) and 13(b)(5) and SOX Section 304. He will also pay disgorgement of $1,116,987.26, plus prejudgment interest of $194,835.52 that will be satisfied by the Order of Restitution in the parallel criminal case. He was also ordered to reimburse SAE $1,206,626 pursuant to Section 304 of SOX. On December 17, 2020 the Court also entered judgment by consent as to SAE. See Lit. Rel. No. 25700 (April 25, 2023).
Review: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued its Year in Review for FY 2022, according to a release dated April 25, 2023 (here).
Meeting: The Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong and CSRC of China held a high-level enforcement meeting to discuss cooperation, according to an April 28, 2023 release (here). At the meeting the regulators noted the favorable results form their cross-boundary enforcement cooperation since 2016. They also brief each other on cooperation and exchanging enforcement priorities.
Remarks: Ravi Menon, Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore, delivered remarks on 26 April 2023 on the greening of the financial system (here).
Report: The. Financial Conduct Authority announced that the Office of Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision or OPBAS has concluded that professional bodies are continuing to demonstrate good levels of compliance with AML requirements. Efficiency improvements in supervision are necessary according to the April 28, 2023 release (here).