David Smyth

David Smyth

Brooks Pierce

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Vivek Ranadivé and Wisconsin IA Both Big into Cherrypicking, According to Sources

Here’s a thing I think I know about billionaires: They’ve made piles and piles of money doing something someone somewhere surely advised them not to do because it was a dumb idea. Then later, actually dumb ideas come along...more

7/2/2015 - Enforcement Actions Exchange-Traded Products Investment Adviser SEC Trading Account

Do Investment Advisers Automatically Have Fiduciary Duties to Their Clients?

I always thought they did. But on Friday I read this sentence: “An investment advisor-client relationship is not a de jure fiduciary relationship.” It sort of jumped out at me, because for a long time I’ve assumed that an...more

6/29/2015 - Fiduciary Duty Investment Adviser Investment Management

FIN4 May Have Embarked on a Risky Hacking/Insider Trading Strategy

I haven’t yet turned to a life of crime, so far be it from me to criticize actual criminals’ profit-maximizing strategies. It’s easy for me to nitpick, but I’m not the one strapping on my mask and trying to earn a...more

6/26/2015 - Cyber Attacks Cybersecurity Data Protection Email FINRA Hackers Pharmaceutical Pharmaceutical Manufacturers

Tom Brady Better Off as a Famous Quarterback than a Registered Representative

And this is true for any number of reasons! There’s the money, the supermodel wife, the buddy trips to the Kentucky Derby . . . . All pretty obvious. But there’s another reason, too. As an NFL quarterback, Brady works...more

6/25/2015 - Deflategate FINRA NFL Registered Representatives Tom Brady

Why Did BHP Billiton Settle an FCPA Case Including 7+ Year-Old Conduct?

Remember the Water Cube from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing? BHP Billiton has probably had reason to think about it recently. On Wednesday it settled an FCPA case with the SEC arising out of the company’s sponsoring the...more

5/22/2015 - Books & Records Bribery Enforcement Actions FCPA Foreign Official Internal Controls Olympics SEC Statute of Limitations

D.C. Circuit Says “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” Is Maybe Not the Best Set of Rules for Criminal Forfeiture

If you’re a federal prosecutor, you have a lot of tools at your disposal. Crimes waiting to be indicted are abundant. If you’re having trouble getting a defendant sentenced as a career offender, you can see if he fits as a...more

5/12/2015

Insider Trading Recklessness and Kevin Love’s Shoulder

A couple of weeks ago I expressed skepticism about the ultimate impact of Judge Rakoff’s recent opinion in SEC v. Payton. In it, he held that for purposes of a motion to dismiss, the SEC had adequately alleged insider...more

5/6/2015 - Illegal Tipping Insider Trading Intent Judge Rakoff Personal Benefit SEC SEC v Payton

The SEC Doesn’t Love Secret Perks for Executives

If you find yourself as the CEO of a public company, you’ll probably find pluses and minuses. You’ll have to work really hard, but it can be lucrative, too. You can get paid a lot of money. And your company can pay you...more

4/28/2015 - C-Suite Executives CEOs Enforcement Actions Executive Compensation Internal Controls Publicly-Traded Companies SEC

Two Regulatory Crises

It strikes me that two civil regulators are facing dire attacks on aspects of their enforcement programs – both in different U.S. Courts of Appeals – at the same time. Both of these attacks arise out of generalized statutes...more

4/21/2015 - Appeals Cybersecurity Data Breach Enforcement Actions FTC FTC v Wyndham Illegal Tipping Insider Trading SEC Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices US v Newman

A Non-Insider Trading Case in the District of Massachusetts

Insider trading prosecutions can be difficult. Because of the haphazard and tortuous growth of insider trading law itself, the prosecutions involve proving lots of different pesky elements. Fiduciary duties, materiality,...more

4/20/2015 - C-Suite Executives Channel Check Confidential Information Criminal Prosecution FINRA Insider Trading Mail Fraud Retailers SEC Supply Chain Wire Fraud

Three Thoughts about the SEC’s First “Pretaliation” Case

I was on a flight last Wednesday when the SEC released the first of what whistleblower chief Sean McKessy has dubbed “pretaliation” cases against KBR, Inc. When I landed I had several emails from colleagues, asking, “Did you...more

4/10/2015 - Confidentiality Agreements Corporate Counsel Enforcement Actions Internal Investigations KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root) Rule 21F SEC Securities Exchange Act Whistleblower Protection Policies Whistleblowers

FINRA Issues Report on Cybersecurity Practices

Following up on our post from last week on the SEC’s cybersecurity exam sweep, you should also know about FINRA’s recent report on this area. Last month, FINRA published a Report on Cybersecurity Practices that really could...more

3/24/2015 - Cybersecurity FINRA Information Reports

SEC Releases Results of Cybersecurity Exam Sweep

We’re a bit behind on this, but better (a little bit) late than never. Last month the SEC’s Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations released the first results of its Cybersecurity Examination Initiative, announced...more

3/17/2015 - Broker-Dealer Compliance Cybersecurity FFIEC FinCEN Industry Examinations Investment Adviser NIST OCIE SAR SEC

The SEC Will Be Your Employment Law Agency, Too

The nature of the SEC’s business a regulator of public companies lends a certain expansive aspect to its jurisdiction. That is, when your job as a government agency is to be sure public companies are making complete and...more

3/3/2015 - Employer Liability Issues Jurisdiction Publicly-Traded Companies SEC Severance Agreements Whistleblowers

SIFMA Gets Its Cybersecurity-Antitrust Wish

I’m sure you remember SIFMA’s Principles for Effective Cybersecurity Regulatory Guidance, issued last October. I mean, you read about them right here. One of the principles was this: Principle 9: Information Sharing...more

3/2/2015 - Cybersecurity Information Sharing SIFMA

Two-Factor Authentication May Be Coming to a Bank Near You

When I was at the SEC and online broker-dealers’ customers were the victims of hacking incidents, I used to wonder, why don’t the broker-dealers require multi-factor authentication to gain access to accounts? It was a silly...more

2/27/2015 - Authentication Banks Cybersecurity Data Protection Financial Institutions

In Ordering Disgorgement in SEC Cases, Courts Have Discretion, but Not That Much Discretion

When defendants argue in federal court against the SEC’s calculation of a disgorgement figure, they hear a lot of this: “A district court has broad discretion to order disgorgement of profits obtained through...more

2/24/2015 - Burden of Proof Disgorgement SEC Securities Fraud

The FCPA on Prezi

I spoke at the UNC Festival of Legal Learning last week about recent developments in the law surrounding the FCPA. It’s always a little tricky speaking to novices in any area, because you have to lay a lot of groundwork for...more

2/20/2015

One Good Thing and One Bad Thing about SEC Administrative Proceedings

One of my favorite lines from my kids’ books involves a cat named Pickles who’s having something of an identity crisis. Pickles doesn’t really have an owner, but does have a temporary caretaker, who tells him, “Pickles,...more

2/19/2015 - Administrative Hearings Enforcement Actions SEC

S.D.N.Y. Vacates Insider Trading Guilty Pleas, Shows How It’s Done

As you probably know if you’re reading this, in December the Second Circuit upended insider trading law for “tipping” cases by (1) giving some structure to the definition of the personal benefit that must come to the original...more

2/2/2015

The SEC Totally Cares about Its Injunctions

Last week I wrote a post discussing the injunctions the SEC typically obtains against defendants in federal court. I noted the oddity of these obey-the-law injunctions and wondered aloud why the Commission never pursues...more

1/27/2015 - Civil Monetary Penalty Contempt Enforcement Actions Injunctions Permanent Injunctions SEC

Retrench of DOJ’s Equitable Sharing Program Could be Boon to N.C. Schools

“Equitable Sharing” sounds so reasonable. Who could argue with it? Here’s what it is, and what it does: The Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing program allows federal law enforcement agencies to “adopt” seizures of...more

1/21/2015 - DOJ Equitable Sharing Forfeiture Law Enforcement Public Schools Search & Seizure

The SEC Does Not Care about Its Injunctions

It won’t surprise you to learn that the U.S. Code includes this provision: “A court of the United States shall have power to punish by fine or imprisonment, or both, at its discretion, such contempt of its authority . . . as...more

1/20/2015 - Civil Monetary Penalty Disgorgement Enforcement Actions Injunctions Rule 65 SEC

Justice Department Files First FCPA Case of 2015, Reminds Lawyers to Watch Out

Last week, the Justice Department filed the first FCPA case of 2015 when it indicted Dmitrij Harder, the former owner and president the Chestnut Consulting Group in Huntingdon Valley, Pa. ...more

1/14/2015 - Bribery Crime-Fraud Exception DOJ Enforcement Actions FCPA Foreign Official Indictments UK

Does SEC Enforcement Treat Bigger Companies Differently?

I’m stealing the title of this post from Broc Romanek, who asked this question on January 2nd. He was responding to a study authored by Jonas Heese, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School who has authored a study...more

1/8/2015 - Enforcement Actions Enforcement Statistics Publicly-Traded Companies SEC

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