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As the global economy surges up and down, companies continue to work to represent accurately to their investors the current state of affairs. Given the turmoil in the markets, an increasing number of plaintiffs are bringing shareholder class action suits, citing corporate statements about COVID-19. Often, these lawsuits point to statements from the company’s most recent SEC filings or associated press releases, and argue that the company knew that those statements were false or materially misleading based on actions that the company took not long after its reporting date. 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.
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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 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.
By Steve Sozio, Rebecca Martin, Rajeev Muttreja and Mark Rotatori
With the federal government appropriating more than $2 trillion for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, plaintiffs’ lawyers, regulators and politicians have trumpeted the search for whistleblowers — many of whom will try to cash in on perceived fraud in the funding programs created by the CARES Act and other enactments.