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Stephen A. Cohen and SAC Capital will pay a group of Elan Corp. investors $135M to settle their insider trading case against him and the firm. The plaintiffs had contended that sustained they financial losses because of insider trading that involved Elan shares. A judge still has to approve the settlement.

Ex-SAC Capital money manager Mathew Martoma was convicted two years ago for making $285M for SAC Capital on trades involving Elan and Wyeth, both pharmaceutical companies. He used insider information about the clinical trials of an Alzheimer’s drug that companies were developing together. Martoma is appealing his conviction while serving a 9-year prison sentence.

Although Cohen was not charged with insider trading, his firm pleaded guilty and consented to pay $1.8B in criminal and civil penalties. SAC Capital also changed its name to Point72 Asset Management LP. Cohen, meantime, went from managing other people’s money to only being allowed to oversee his multibillion-dollar fortune.

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Barbara Duka, the ex-head of Standard & Poor’s commercial mortgage-backed securities, is on trial before a Securities and Exchange Commission administrative law judge. Duka is accused of inflating the ratings of commercial mortgage-backed securities and not telling investors that she and her team had changed the way they formulated ratings for the securities in 2011.

The SEC contends that Duka implemented the change after the credit rating agency lost market shares for rating commercial-backed securities using “more conservative criteria” in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse. The regulator believes that Duka began to rate the securities in a way that favored the issuers so S & P could bring in more business.

Meantime, investors  continued to believe that the ratings were conservatively-based.  Now, the Commission wants to bar Duka from associating with ratings organizations. It also wants her to pay financial penalties.

The SEC brought its case against Duka last year around the time that the Commission and two state attorneys general announced that they had reached a $77M settlement with S &P. The regulator’s case was brought after Citigroup Inc.(C) and Goldman Sachs Group(GS) had to withdraw a $1.5B commercial mortgage-backed securities offering because S & P told them about an internal review of the securities ratings. Duka, meantime, sued the SEC, questioning whether it had the right to pursue cases in-house before its own judge instead of in court.  Although a district court judge ruled that the SEC could not move forward with its case against Duka, a federal appeals court decided otherwise.

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According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Ally Financial (ALLY) will pay $52M to resolve allegations accusing its subsidiary Residential Capital (ResCap) of purposely marketing mortgage bonds even though it knew that the mortgages backing the bonds were toxic. At issue are Residential Capital LLC mortgage-backed securities.

10 subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) were issued in ’06 and ’07 with Ally Financial’s brokerage firm, Ally Securities, previously known as Residential Funding Securities, in the role of lead underwriter. The government contends that even though Ally Securities purportedly noticed that mortgage loan pools in RASC-EMX securities were deteriorating because of deficiencies in both the underwriting guidelines for the subprime mortgage loans and the diligence employed to the collateral before securitization, the firm took great pains to set up the RASC-EMX brand, secure investors for the RMBS offerings, and direct third-part due diligence to test if the loans were in compliance with disclosures made in public offering documents to investors.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims that the firm continued to market the securities to investors even though it knew that the toxic subprime mortgages were likely to become delinquent. The government is alleging that Ally Financial made misstatements about the RMBSs.

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The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has resuscitated Tutor Perini Corp.’s (TPC) securities fraud lawsuit against Bank of America (BAC). Circuit Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson said that a district court judge made a mistake when tossing the Massachusetts and federal securities claims accusing the bank of selling the construction company millions of dollars in auction-rate securities that it knew were about to fail.

Tutor Perini, which is estimating over $50M plus interest in losses, claims that Bank of America persuaded it to purchase ARSs prior to the financial crisis, toward the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, even though it knew that the securities were on the brink of becoming illiquid. It was in February 2008 that the dealer stopped supporting the $330B ARS market, leaving investors with debt that was illiquid—debt that they had been reassured time and again was liquid, like cash. Instead, investors were unable to access their funds.

In 2015, the district court judge dismissed Tutor Perini’s ARS fraud case, noting that Bank of America did not have the “duty” to reveal every fact about the risks involved to the construction company and that the bank had, in fact, already made a number of disclosures. Judge Thompson, however, said that because the ARS market was failing, this might have meant that Bank of America now had the duty to warn about the new risks, including those involving its earlier recommendations. Thompson noted that a jury could very well find that as the bank had sought to protect itself from the ARS market, it pushed the construction company toward greater exposure.

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Another group of plaintiffs is suing Edward Jones, accusing the firm of charging excessive fees and self-dealing in its 401(K) Plan. In the complaint, the brokerage firm and a number of its employees, including managing partner James Weddle and financial adviser Brett Bayston, are accused of breach of fiduciary duty related to their decision to choose costlier mutual funds when there were less expensive, equivalent funds available. Edwards Jones and its employees are also accused of choosing an “unreasonable” amount of risky investment choices and engaging in self-dealing.

The purported self-dealing allegedly occurred through its distribution deals with a number of fund companies, including Franklin Templeton Investments, American Funds, BlackRock (BLK), and Goldman Sachs (GS). The plaintiffs claim that the fund companies paid Edward Jones revenue-sharing fees for access to its “captive market,” which included 401(K) participants, and “shelf space” in its brokerage business that targeted retail investors. As part of the distribution relationship, Edward Jones offered the fund companies’ investment options in its Edward D. Jones & Co. Profit Sharing and 401(K) Plan.

The plaintiffs believe that these distribution relationships affected the decisions made by the fiduciaries and ended up costing participants millions of dollars in excessive fees. An Edward Jones spokesperson says that the allegations are false and that the broker-dealer would mount a “vigorous defense.”

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To settle civil and criminal charges alleging violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) will pay more than $264M: $130M to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, $72M to the U.S. Department of Justice, and $61.9M to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The settlements come following a probe that went on for several years into the bank’s hiring practices in Asia.

As part of the agreement, JPMorgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Limited (JPMorgan APAC) admitted that it established the “Sons and Daughters” referral program in 2006 to give preference to job candidates with ties to upcoming client deals. According to authorities, the bank hired 100 interns and full-time employees because foreign officials referred them. Some of these referrals were relatives of these officials. In order to be hired, a candidate had to have direct ties with a “business opportunity.”  The Justice Department has called the program “bribery.”

The DOJ’s release reports that among the admissions made related to the resolution was that in 2009, a Chinese government official told a senior JPMorgan APAC  banker that if a certain referred candidate were hired this would “significantly influence” the role the bank would have in an upcoming IPO for a company owned by the Chinese state. The banker notified senior colleagues, who spent several months attempting to bring the candidate into an investment banking position in New York. Even though this referred candidate did not have the qualifications for the job, senior JPMorgan APAC bankers created a position for this individual, and the bank was granted a lead role in the initial public offering. JPMorgan APAC also admitted that referred candidates were given the same salary and titles as entry-level investment bankers even though their tasks were “ancillary,” such as proofreading.

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In its third highest award to a tipster since the inception of its whistleblower program, the Securities and Exchange Commission has awarded an individual $20M for coming forward right away to disclose “valuable information” that allowed the regulator to swiftly bring an enforcement action against the wrongdoers before they could spend the funds.  This latest award ups the total awarded by the SEC to whistleblowers to $130M since 2012. The regulator issued its highest award to date, of $30M, in 2014 and awarded another whistleblower $22M in August.

The SEC Whistleblower Program allows the regulator to award the person who provided the tip 10-30% of  monetary sanctions collected. The sanctions, however, must exceed $1M. The tip should relate to a federal securities law violation that already happened, is currently taking place, or is about to happen, and it must be unique information. More than one whistleblower may qualify to receive an award from an over $1M sanction obtained as a result of the tips provided.

Because the law protects whistleblower confidentiality, more specifics about this latest case, including who was involved or who received the award, were not disclosed.

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A British day trader has pleaded guilty to spoofing and wire fraud involved the 2010 Flash Crash. Navinder Singh Sarao was accused of making $40M while spoofing the stock futures market of CME Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CME)  for more than five years. He also will forfeit $12.9M of the ill-gotten gains that he made from trading. Sarao is facing a maximum of 30 years in prison. It was during the 2010 Flash Crash that a trading frenzy briefly took down nearly $1 trillion from American equities.

To face the 22 criminal charges against him for market manipulation and fraud, Sarao had to be extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States. US prosecutors accused him of rigging the futures on the S & P 500 Index.

Spoofing involves manipulating prices by placing trade orders but with no plans of executing them. The purpose is to send prices moving in one direction but then canceling the trades prior to execution in order to make money off the prices going back to where they originally were before the manipulation.

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Xerox HR Solutions is now the defendant in an alleged pay-to-play scam involving Financial Engines, Inc., which offers investment advice services through subsidiary Financial Engines Advisors. According to the proposed class action securities case, the “conspiracy” involving the two companies compelled participants of Ford Motor Co.’s retirement plans to pay unreasonable and excessive fees. The plaintiffs are three participants in the Ford plan. The 401K-related lawsuit is Chendes et al v. Xerox HR Solutions.

According to the complaint, Xerox allegedly was paid a “kickback” by Financial Engines in exchange for including the investment adviser/managed-account provider on its record-keeping platform. The plaintiffs believe that this deal between the two companies “wrongfully” inflated the price that Financial Engines charged for its professional investment advice services. They noted that even without the excessive fees, Xerox was already getting paid a record-keeping fee.

Plaintiffs said that of the $5.8M that participants paid Xerox HR for Financial Engines Services in 2015, 31% of that—$1.8M—was paid to Xerox. The plaintiffs are alleging that similar payments also occurred in 2012. They contend that the fees in question were not for any “substantial services” that either company provided to plan participants.

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In New York, US District Judge Deborah A. Batts has certified a class of investors to go ahead with fraud claims that they’ve brought against Wells Fargo (WFC), RBS Securities (RBS), and Deutsche Bank (DB). The banks underwrote $7.7B of NovaStar mortgage-backed securities. The lead plaintiff in the MBS fraud case is the New Jersey Carpenters Health Fund. Wells Fargo Advisors LLC was previously Wachovia Capital Markets.

The plaintiffs contend that the defendant banks lied in the securities’ offering documents. Judge Batts held that the fundamental question at issue is whether the bank did, in fact, make the allegedly misleading or materially false statements.

NovaStar issued  six residential mortgage backed-securities that the banks underwrote in 2006. These RMBS collectively held over $7.7B in assets. By mid-2009,  in the wake of the housing collapse, over half the mortgages backing the securities had defaulted. Investors sustained major losses.

The New Jersey Carpenters Health Fund, which sued not just the banks in 2008 but also subprime lender NovaStar and credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, had invested $100K in one of the securities. The credit raters are no longer defendants in the case as the claims against them from this mortgage-backed securities case were dismissed in 2011. Because NovaStar’s successor has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the case against the subprime lender has been stayed.

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