E-brokers TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers sustained record retail trading volumes in the second quarter (CNBC by Maggie Fitzgerald)Two Chinese Hackers Working with the Ministry of State Security Charged with Global Computer Intrusion Campaign Targeting Intellectual Property and Confidential Business Information, Including COVID-19 Research / Indictment Alleges Two Hackers Worked With the Guangdong State Security Department (GSSD) of the Ministry of State Security (MSS), While Also Targeting Victims Worldwide for Personal Profit (DOJ Release)In the Matter of the Arbitration Between Southpac Trust, in its capacity as Trustee of the Dragoo Family Trust, dated June 25, 1996, as amended and restated; Washington Capital Partnership, LLLP; and Lincoln Capital Partnership, LLLP, Claimant, v. Cetera Advisors LLC, Respondent (FINRA Arbitration Award)
That brings us to the Telegram case. Last month's settlement was the unsatisfying culmination of an enforcement action that I did not support from the beginning. Telegram had built an operational network, made good faith efforts to comply with the federal securities laws in raising funds to build that network, and engaged extensively with the SEC staff. With the assistance of sophisticated counsel, Telegram used the Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) offering structure, which divides the creation of the network and the delivery of the tokens into at least two distinct stages. First, Telegram raised funds to develop the blockchain technology underlying the Grams by selling interests in the anticipated Grams to accredited investors. In return for providing the necessary funds, the accredited investors would receive an allotment of Grams upon the launch of the TON Blockchain. According to Telegram, this first stage-raising funds from accredited investors in a private offering-involved a securities transaction conducted in reliance on Rule 506(c)-a frequently used exemption from our registration requirements.It was at the second stage that the sharpest disagreements erupted. In one view, the second stage was to begin with the launch of the TON Blockchain and end when Telegram delivered the Grams to the accredited investors. The accredited investors then could resell the Grams, subject to certain previously agreed-upon lockup restrictions. In Telegram's view, these resale transactions by the accredited investors would not involve a security, but rather a digital currency, which could be used for buying and selling goods and services on the functional TON Blockchain. As network effects took hold, the value of that digital currency, of course, would go up.The district court in the Telegram case, at the urging of the SEC, rejected this analytical approach. In the court's view, the accredited investors' resale transactions were an offer or sale of a security because the Gram was an integral part of an investment contract. In reaching this conclusion, the court determined that the entire sequence-the Gram purchase agreements entered by the accredited investors, Telegram's delivery of the Grams upon launch of the TON Blockchain, and the accredited investors' resale of the Grams-were a single scheme that constituted an investment contract under the securities laws. . . .= = = = = See Telegram to Return $1.2 Billion to Investors and Pay $18.5 Million Penalty to Settle SEC Charges (June 26, 2020), https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2020-146. See SEC v. Telegram Group Inc., No. 1:19-cv-09439-PKC (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 24, 2020) (opinion and order granting preliminary injunction) [hereinafter Telegram]; see also Complaint, SEC v. Telegram, 19-cv-09439-PKC (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 11, 2019) [hereinafter Complaint].
[In]Securities Guest Blog: Blinded by the Light by Aegis Frumento Esq (BrokeAndBroker.com Blog / February 27, 2020)In a Complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ("SDNY"), the SEC alleged that Telegram Group Inc. raised capital via the sale of 2.9 billion Grams to 171 initial purchasers worldwide. SDNY issued a preliminary injunction barring the delivery of Grams and found that the SEC had shown a substantial likelihood of proving that Telegram's sales were part of a larger scheme to unlawfully distribute the Grams to the secondary public market. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the Complaint, Telegram Group Inc and its wholly owned subsidiary TON Issuer Inc. consented to entry of a final judgment enjoining them from violating the registration provisions of Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act; ordering them to disgorge $1,224,000 on a joint and several basis with credit for the amounts repaid to initial purchasers of Grams; ordering Telegram Group Inc. to pay a $18,500,000 civil penalty; and requiring Telegram for the next three years, to give notice to the SEC staff before participating in the issuance of any digital assets.
http://www.brokeandbroker.com/5088/frumento-insecurities-blinded-by-the-light/SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce's recently floated an informal proposal for a "safe harbor" to protect token developers from SEC enforcement actions. Peirce's proposal attempts to address the conundrum of how would-be networks can publicly distribute their tokens despite the uncertainty about whether the Howey test might deem cryptocurrencies to be cryptosecurities. Veteran Wall Street lawyer Aegis Frumento finds some merit in the Peirce's efforts but also spots a potential flaw.
TD Ameritrade said Tuesday it added a record 661,000 new funded retail accounts in the second quarter, surpassing the 608,000 new accounts during the first quarter. The broker, which is set to be acquired by Charles Schwab, also reported a record 3.4 million daily average revenue trades - more than four times last year's levels and 62% more than the prior quarter.The major online brokers - Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E-Trade, Interactive Brokers and Robinhood - have seen new accounts and trading activity surge this year during the coronavirus recession. The brokerage industry experienced a flood of new, small investors who saw the market rout and subsequent rebound as a buying opportunity.
The legal win comes after advisors have engaged lengthy litigation against Credit Suisse, involving a number of FINRA arbitration cases and state courts. At the heart of the issue is whether Credit Suisse effectively terminated its advisors when it decided to shutter its U.S. wealth management business four years ago. Under Credit Suisse employment contracts, advisors lose their deferred compensation if they quit. The firm has argued that they did.
Credit Suisse Loses Multi-Million Dollar Deferred Comp Arbitration. In the Matter of the Arbitration Between Joseph Todd Lerner and Anna Sarai Winderbaum, Claimants, v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Respondent (FINRA Arbitration Decision 17-00057)http://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/aao_documents/17-00057.pdfIn a Statement of Claim filed in January 2017, associated person Claimants Lerner and Winderbaum asserted breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, conversion, unjust enrichment, false and misleading Form U-5 and fraud. Claimants sought at least $3.6 million in deferred compensation plus interest, costs, fees, and the amendment of their Forms U5. Respondent Credit Suisse generally denied the allegations, asserted affirmative defenses, and filed a Counterclaim asserting breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, and misappropriation of trade secrets. Further, Respondent sought a "declaration that Claimants are not entitled to vesting or delivery of their unvested contingent deferred awards under the Share Plan and related documentation, whether under a legal theory of constructive termination or otherwise." The FINRA Arbitration Panel recommended, in part, that the Forms U5 for Claimant Lerner and Winderbaum be changed to reflect that each had been "Terminated Without Cause." Further, the Panel found Respondent Credit Suisse liable and ordered it to pay to:Claimant Lerner and Claimant Winderbaum: $14,009.25 in costs and $250,000 in attorneys fees per NY Labor Law Section 198(1-a)Claimant Lerner: $1,386,628 in compensatory damages; $415,988.40 in compensatory damages; $1,386,628 in liquidated damages per NY Labor Law Section 198(1-a) plus interestClaimant Winderbaum: $1,400,716 in compensatory damages; $420,214.80; $1,400,716 in liquidated damages per NY Labor Law Section 198(1-a) plus interestSIDE BAR: New York Labor Law Section 198: Costs, Remedies1. In any action instituted upon a wage claim by an employee or the commissioner in which the employee prevails, the court may allow such employee in addition to ordinary costs, a reasonable sum, not exceeding fifty dollars for expenses which may be taxed as costs. No assignee of a wage claim, except the commissioner, shall be benefited by this provision.1-a. On behalf of any employee paid less than the wage to which he or she is entitled under the provisions of this article, the commissioner may bring any legal action necessary, including administrative action, to collect such claim and as part of such legal action, in addition to any other remedies and penalties otherwise available under this article, the commissioner shall assess against the employer the full amount of any such underpayment, and an additional amount as liquidated damages, unless the employer proves a good faith basis for believing that its underpayment of wages was in compliance with the law. Liquidated damages shall be calculated by the commissioner as no more than one hundred percent of the total amount of wages found to be due, except such liquidated damages may be up to three hundred percent of the total amount of the wages found to be due for a willful violation of section one hundred ninety-four of this article. In any action instituted in the courts upon a wage claim by an employee or the commissioner in which the employee prevails, the court shall allow such employee to recover the full amount of any underpayment, all reasonable attorney's fees, prejudgment interest as required under the civil practice law and rules, and, unless the employer proves a good faith basis to believe that its underpayment of wages was in compliance with the law, an additional amount as liquidated damages equal to one hundred percent of the total amount of the wages found to be due, except such liquidated damages may be up to three hundred percent of the total amount of the wages found to be due for a willful violation of section one hundred ninety-four of this article. . . .
the overlap in the information Claimant 2 provided to the other Regulator and the information requested by the CFTC in its November Request. Instead of being in Claimant 2's custody, this [redacted] was maintained and available from another unit within Claimant 2's employer. Additionally, the record reflects that the Division did not request documents in the personal possession of Claimant 2 prior to his/her provision of information to the Regulator and the Commission The Division also did not seek to interview Claimant 2 prior to his/her provision of information to the Division. Therefore, we determined that Claimant 2's submission was voluntary under the Rules.
(i) Claimant expeditiously submitted a detailed tip concerning an ongoing fraud that the Commission was not aware of at the time; (ii) Claimant's tip was specific and detailed and included significant corroborating documents, which prompted Enforcement staff to open the investigation; (iii) Claimant continued to provide information that was helpful to the investigation; and (iv) there are currently no collections in this matter.
(i) Claimant expeditiously submitted a tip with previously unknown details concerning an ongoing fraud; (ii) Claimant's tip was specific and detailed and included significant corroborating documents, which prompted Enforcement staff to open the investigation; (iii) Claimant's tip helped the Commission stop an ongoing fraud and resulted in the return of money to harmed investors; (iv) there are low collections in this matter; and (v) Claimant was not in a position to continue providing on-going, helpful information to the Enforcement staff during the investigation.
A federal grand jury in Spokane, Washington, returned an indictment earlier this month charging two hackers, both nationals and residents of the People's Republic of China (China), with hacking into the computer systems of hundreds of victim companies, governments, non-governmental organizations, and individual dissidents, clergy, and democratic and human rights activists in the United States and abroad, including Hong Kong and China. The defendants in some instances acted for their own personal financial gain, and in others for the benefit of the MSS or other Chinese government agencies. The hackers stole terabytes of data which comprised a sophisticated and prolific threat to U.S. networks.The 11-count indictment alleges LI Xiaoyu, 34, and DONG Jiazhi, 33, who were trained in computer applications technologies at the same Chinese university, conducted a hacking campaign lasting more than ten years to the present, targeting companies in countries with high technology industries, including the United States, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Targeted industries included, among others, high tech manufacturing; medical device, civil, and industrial engineering; business, educational, and gaming software; solar energy; pharmaceuticals; defense. In at least one instance, the hackers sought to extort cryptocurrency from a victim entity, by threatening to release the victim's stolen source code on the Internet. More recently, the defendants probed for vulnerabilities in computer networks of companies developing COVID-19 vaccines, testing technology, and treatments.
[T]he causes of action relate to an alleged breach of the terms of a Secured Promissory Note dated May 2, 2014 between Lincoln and Company C (the "Note"). Mr. C, who was a principal of Company C and was registered with Respondent, allegedly failed to honor a personal guaranty on the Note.
SIDE BAR: FINRA Code of Arbitration Procedure for Customer Disputes, Rule 12504: Motions to Dismiss:(a) Motions to Dismiss Prior to Conclusion of Case in Chief(6) The panel cannot act upon a motion to dismiss a party or claim under paragraph (a) of this rule, unless the panel determines that:(A) the non-moving party previously released the claim(s) in dispute by a signed settlement agreement and/or written release;(B) the moving party was not associated with the account(s), security(ies), or conduct at issue; or(C) The non-moving party previously brought a claim regarding the same dispute against the same party that was fully and finally adjudicated on the merits and memorialized in an order, judgment, award, or decision.
FINRA lacks arbitral jurisdiction because none of the named Claimants have or had an account or customer relationship with Respondent. Pursuant to an alternative argument raised in the motion, no separate agreement to arbitrate existed and Respondent was not involved with the transactions giving rising to the harm alleged by Claimants.Although the claim asserted against Respondent is for alleged failure to supervise Mr. C, the conduct at issue was Mr. C's failure to honor a personal guaranty on the Note. The Note was unrelated to Respondent and its business. The Note was executed in connection with a potential investment by Lincoln in an insurance business venture that was also unrelated to Respondent and its securities business. The Panel has determined that Respondent was not associated with the making of that Note and was not responsible for performance under the personal guaranty. Moreover, in connection with that insurance-related transaction, Mr. C was not acting in his capacity as a securities broker or on behalf of Respondent. Therefore, Claimants' argument that the Note was a security, as that term is defined by federal or state securities laws, is immaterial.The Panel also has determined that it is immaterial that Mr. C may have asked for, needed, or received Respondent's permission to enter into the business relationship between Company C and Lincoln. Mr. C was also a licensed insurance agent. Respondent is not in that business, and the transaction at issue is related to the insurance business.Accordingly, the Panel unanimously grants Respondent's motion and dismisses this case under FINRA Rule 12504(a)(6)(B) and, alternatively, under FINRA Rule 12200.