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Elections have consequences, and the election of President Trump has resulted in a significant shift in law enforcement priorities. Corporate enforcement activity is at lows not seen in decades, despite an overall increase of almost 40% in federal criminal cases. This is a product of a change in priorities, both in terms of types of offenses and types of offender: more focus on prosecuting individuals instead of entities and more emphasis on drug, violence, and immigration offense rather than business crimes. In a couple of areas where there may be increased business crime enforcement activity reflected in some of the aggregate numbers — Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and crypto currency — the actual cases nonetheless reflect the administration’s reordered priorities. So, for the time being, there will be almost unprecedented opportunity to achieve favorable resolutions for corporate clients.
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By Robert J. Anello and Richard F. Albert
When federal prosecutors focus their attention on high profile misconduct that is not an obvious violation of federal criminal law, they often cannot resist the attractions of broadly worded “catch-all” fraud statutes. From time to time, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has pushed back on efforts to further expand the boundaries of these statutes, leading to reversals of some well-publicized criminal convictions.
By Margaret A. Dale and Mark D. Harris
Given the current turmoil in the markets, an increasing number of plaintiffs are bringing shareholder class action suits, citing corporate statements about COVID-19. As first-quarter earnings season draws to a close, now is a good time to reflect on the shareholder class actions that have been brought to date related to COVID-19, and others potentially yet to come.
By Terence M. Grugan, David L. Axelrod and Emilia McKee Vassallo
For more than 10 years, federal investigators have investigated criminal conduct in connection with the 2008 recession-era TARP program. From those investigations, U.S. Attorneys across the country brought cases and earned convictions for offenses spanning the federal criminal code. We can expect that these same agencies will use the same techniques and strategies to investigate crimes and bring cases involving fraud related to the COVID-19 stimulus packages.
By Russell Koonin and Adam Schwartz
In the midst the current COVID-19 pandemic, the SEC is paying attention. The Division of Enforcement has made clear that it will act, and act quickly, to stop fraudulent conduct that falls under its jurisdiction related to the pandemic.