Posts from December 2014.
In a previous blog, we explained that the Supreme Court was considering whether a defendant merely has to allege jurisdictional facts or provide evidence regarding the amount in controversy when removing a case. On December 15, 2014, the Supreme Court answered the question. In Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, No. 13-719, 2014 WL 7010692 (U.S. Dec. 15, 2014), the Court held that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a), a defendant's notice of removal need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. The notice need ...
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") was recently granted a preliminary agreement by a federal judge to bar a municipal official from participating in future bond sales. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the move marks a new enforcement method utilized by the SEC and was undertaken pursuant to the SEC's broad antifraud authority. While the SEC has received preliminary agreement in one case, other requests are still outstanding. The preliminary agreement awarded to the SEC involved a Harvey, Illinois city official who allegedly diverted municipal bonds for ...
Posted in: SEC
With only three official days left of the current Congress, conversations Wednesday turned towards cybersecurity in the financial sector. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Securities Exchange Commission all discussed planned or ongoing strategies to prepare for future cyber-attacks, highlighting such methods as compliance examinations of firms' cybersecurity measures. These organizations' efforts emphasize the substantial scrutiny on the effects that cyber-attacks can have on both financial institutions and ...
Posted in: FINRA, SIFMA

The US Second Circuit this Wednesday narrowed the scope of "tippee" liability for insider trading, rejecting the "doctrinal novelty" of recent government prosecution theories. In United State v. Newman, Nos. 13-1837-cr c/w 13-1917-cr (2nd Cir. Dec. 10, 2014), the Court reversed the insider-trading and conspiracy convictions of two portfolio managers. They were downstream tippees, who traded on information passed along from corporate insiders to securities analysts and, ultimately, Newman and Chaisson. The Court of Appeals reversed, because the jury instructions had ...

Posted in: SEC
The SEC this week issued cease-and-desist orders against eight auditors, fining them $140,000 collectively, for violating auditor independence rules by preparing the very broker-dealer financials they were to audit. Broker-dealer auditors are bound by auditor-independence criteria established under Reg. S-X. By using BD-provided documents to prepare the client's financial statements, the sanctioned firms "essentially put themselves in the position of auditing their own work," said the SEC's release, here. The Release is another in a growing trend in which Enforcement ...
Posted in: SEC
Following the final 2014 meeting of the Board of Governors last week, FINRA announced its proposal to increase fees associated with cancelling or postponing an arbitration hearing. In a December 4, 2014 email to firms, FINRA reported that the Board proposed to amend Rules 12601 and 13601 of the Code of Arbitration Procedure to extend the time required to give notice of an arbitration cancellation and increase cancellation fees. Under the proposed rule, if a party requests and receives a postponement or cancellation less than 10 days from a scheduling hearing, it would have to pay an ...
Posted in: FINRA
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