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The “good” thieves are able to abscond with tremendously valuable items while remaining undetected. They take care to cover their tracks, to make sure any witnesses are silenced, and to financially clean the ill-gotten goods as quickly as possible. In the COVID-19 era, there has been a heist of great value, but it has not gone undetected. Prosecutors have called the heist the largest fraud in U.S. history, with the thieves stealing hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money through fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The thieves’ plan to line their pockets was fairly simple: steal the money that the government was doling out to help buoy the economy during the throes of the pandemic. They took advantage of the government’s urgent loan dispersal to those who required immediate help. But the thieves could not resist showing off their looted wealth. They began purchasing flashy and expensive Lamborghinis, beautiful beachfront houses, and spending large amounts in cash. The careless and reckless nature of the heist has proven to be its undoing, and now the U.S. government is coming to take back what was stolen — although they are not acting alone.
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The Criminal Division’s Enforcement Policy: What’s New for Companies Deciding Whether to Voluntarily Disclose?
By Jacqueline C. Wolff
Since the DOJ announced a new policy under which companies that voluntarily disclosed violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has attempted to encourage companies to voluntarily disclose all manner of criminal misconduct beyond violations of just the FCPA, while general counsels worldwide have been wrestling with the question of whether and when it is in the company’s best interest to so disclose.
SEC to Continue to Punish Wrongdoers and Deter Misconduct
By Jonathan H. Hecht and Emily S. Unger
The Division of Enforcement will likely continue to use “every tool in its toolkit” and expect that public companies and other market participants will think rigorously about their business and appropriately tailor compliance practices and internal controls and policies to match.
Circuit Split Reflects Disagreement About the Relationship Between Scheme Liability and SEC Rule 10b-5(b)
By Stefan Atkinson and Yi Yuan
Historically, federal courts generally agreed that scheme liability under SEC Rule 10b-5(a) and (c) requires something more than a misstatement or omission — with misstatements and omissions typically being litigated under Rule 10b-5(b) instead. However, the SCOTUS in Lorenzo v. SEC held that an individual who disseminates a misstatement, without other fraudulent conduct, is potentially liable under the scheme liability provisions of Rule 10b-5. Subsequently, a circuit split has emerged over the scope of Lorenzo’s holding.
ESG ‘Greenwashing’ Litigation On the Rise
By Shoshana Schiller, Alice Douglas and Brenda Gotanda
Increased attention paid to companies’ public promotion of their environmental and sustainability programs is likely to continue in 2023, with further developments in regulation and litigation pertaining to “greenwashing” — a marketing practice which involves unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims about the environmentally friendly or socially-responsible attributes of an organization’s products or services.