The criminal spoofing trial in United States v. Vorley kicked off in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on September 14, 2020.  Less than 10 days later, on the first full day of deliberations, jurors sent a note to the court indicating they had reached an impasse, with two jurors holding out against a consensus on the verdict.  Following this development, the court denied the defendants’ request to declare a mistrial and instructed the jury to continue deliberations.

The jury’s difficulty in reaching a verdict on the complicated charges may foreshadow a similar outcome that occurred last year in the criminal trial of software developer Jitesh Thakkar.  In that case, Jitesh faced spoofing charges stemming from his company’s development of software that was later used by a London-based trader to spoof E-Mini S&P 500 futures contracts, which allegedly led to the “flash crash” of 2010.  The trial judge granted Thakkar’s mid-trial motion for a judgment of acquittal on a conspiracy charge based on the lack of evidence of any agreement between Thakkar and the London trader, but the judge allowed the spoofing counts to proceed to the jury.  The jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of Thakkar on those charges and the government eventually dropped its case. Continue Reading Latest Criminal Spoofing Trial Hampered by Obstacles

This podcast provides rare insight from a retired FBI agent regarding how to add science into the art of interviewing. Perkins Coie partner Kevin Feldis, a former federal prosecutor, talks with retired FBI Special Agent Colton Seale about recent research on conducting more effective witness interviews. Colton spent 22 years with the FBI, including serving as a member of the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), interviewing suspects around the world.

Kevin and Colton discuss what it really means to build rapport and how to get in sync with the person in a way that opens the door for meaningful factfinding.

The goal of any interview is to learn accurate and complete information, but rigid approaches and common misconceptions about how to conduct interviews can go nowhere and lead to incomplete and inaccurate answers.

Listen to “Witness Interview Tips From Retired FBI Agent: Building Rapport and Getting in Sync” on Spreaker.

Note that all episodes are available on AppleGoogle, and Spotify.

White Collar Briefly host, Markus Funk, chair of Perkins Coie’s White Collar & Investigations Practice, welcomes two Chicago-based guests. Jeremy Gottschalk is general counsel for Sittercity.com, an online marketplace for childcare providers. The Hon. Virginia M. Kendall of the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Illinois is a former federal prosecutor and one of the nation’s leading experts in the area of child exploitation.

The episode examines potential threats companies may face when operating in the childcare space, concrete steps companies can take to identify and root out potential abusers from their online platforms, and cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

Listen to “Policing Online Child Care Platforms: A Conversation With Sittercity’s General Counsel Jeremy Gottschalk and the Hon. Virginia M. Kendall” on Spreaker.

Note that all episodes are available on AppleGoogle, and Spotify.

In this episode of White Collar Briefly, Perkins Coie’s Barak Cohen, David Fletcher, and Alexander Canizares discuss the landscape for increased fraud investigations and enforcement actions related to COVID-19 stimulus spending, including False Claims Act investigations and qui tam whistleblower litigation, as well as steps companies can take to reduce their potential exposure. Barak, David, and Alex discuss new and emerging enforcement issues related to Paycheck Protection Program loans and other spending under the CARES Act and anticipated areas of focus for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) with respect to the False Claims Act. The episode also provides an overview of recent DOJ fraud enforcement related to COVID-19 and the expected roles to be played by new and existing investigative entities, including the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and special inspector general for pandemic recovery.

Listen to “COVID-19 Relief Fraud Investigations and Litigation: Areas of Focus and Risk Mitigation Strategies” on Spreaker.

Note that all episodes are available on AppleGoogle, and Spotify.

In Part 2 of our examination of internal investigation trends in India, Perkins Coie partners Markus Funk and Chelsea Curfman speak with Arpinder Singh, a partner with EY Forensics & Integrity Services and head of their India and Emerging Markets group. Topics discussed include trends in both the subject matter and scope of internal investigations in India; the increasing number of whistleblower reports being lodged in India and how companies are responding to those reports; and tips on how companies and outside counsel can best investigate potential wrongdoing, including where to look for relevant data.

Listen to “Global Investigation Trends – India (Part 2): A Discussion With Arpinder Singh of EY Forensics & Integrity Services” on Spreaker.

Note that all episodes are available on AppleGoogle, and Spotify.

On August 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued an opinion letter (cataloged as FCPA Opinion No. 20-01) stating that it did not intend to take enforcement action under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) against a U.S.-based investment advisor planning to pay something akin to a “finder’s fee” to a foreign state-owned investment bank (the “third party”) who helped facilitate a transaction.  This opinion marks the first time in six years that the DOJ has issued guidance under the FCPA Opinion Procedure Regulations, a process by which companies can request the DOJ’s formal opinion as to whether certain conduct conforms with its FCPA anti-bribery enforcement policies.

In issuing its opinion, the DOJ looked past some possible red flags related to this contemplated payment and relied upon the following: the investment advisor planned to make a payment directly to the third party, which was an entity versus an individual (on its face, the FCPA only prohibits payments to individuals); there was no indication that the payment was intended to corruptly influence a foreign official; the investment advisor received legitimate services from the third party; and the chief compliance officer of the third party certified that the planned payment was commensurate with the service it had provided and was otherwise commercially reasonable.  Our detailed analysis of this opinion is available here.

Continuing our series of episodes regarding investigation and enforcement trends around the globe, Perkins Coie partners Markus Funk and Chelsea Curfman interview Sherbir Panag, co-founder and head of the Compliance and Investigations Practice at the Law Offices of Panag & Babu, in New Delhi, India. Sherbir discusses recent trends in enforcement of corruption-related cases in India, as well as how recent changes to India’s anti-corruption laws are being implemented. Sherbir also addresses the importance of involving local counsel early on in any India-based investigation, in light of India’s stance on legal privileges and trial-based approach to enforcement.

Listen to “Global Investigation Trends – India (Part 1): A Discussion With Sherbir Panag of Panag & Babu Law Offices” on Spreaker.

Note that all episodes are available on AppleGoogle, and Spotify.

As college students return to campus, the potential for another shutdown looms, bringing with it exposure to lawsuits seeking tuition refunds or raising health and safety concerns.

Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Perkins Coie attorneys examine the current batch of class actions filed against higher education institutions and provide guidance to reduce the risk of litigation going forward.

Click here to read the full article published by Bloomberg Law.

Reproduced with permission. Published August 14, 2020. Copyright 2020 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. 800-372- 1033. For further use, please visit http://www.bna.com/copyright-permission-request/

In this first of our series of episodes regarding global trends in internal investigations and enforcement, Ilaria Curti, head of the Internal Investigations Group at Portolano Cavallo in Rome, and Perkins Coie Partner Chelsea Curfman discuss how recent amendments to Italy’s anti-corruption laws are starting to affect both when and how companies choose to conduct internal investigations, as well as attitudes toward self-reporting of potential wrongdoing. Curti also addresses the 2019 European Directive on Whistleblowing and its implications for companies operating in Europe and offers a word of caution to foreign companies whose conduct may now be subject to enforcement by Italian authorities under Italy’s anti-corruption laws.

Listen to “The Changing Landscape of Internal Investigations: Italy, A Discussion with Ilaria Curti, Counsel at Portolano Cavallo” on Spreaker

Note that all episodes are available on AppleGoogle, and Spotify.

On July 28, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused six individuals and their companies with securities fraud in connection with two cannabis-related businesses in California that raised $25 million in an unregistered securities offering.  The SEC’s complaint was filed in the Central District of California and seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that the defendants misappropriated over $2.7 million of investors’ money and misleadingly promised a “guaranteed” annual return on investment of 100% or more. The purported scheme raised funds from 400 investors for a marijuana farm and a cannabidiol (CBD) extraction facility.

Securities-related litigation and enforcement is a growing risk for the burgeoning cannabis industry. Since 2017, the SEC has brought ten actions in federal court against cannabis companies in addition to this case. This latest filing reemphasizes the need for cannabis companies to provide truthful and complete information to current and potential investors. Companies in the cannabis industry should expect heightened scrutiny and would be well-served by focusing their efforts to ensure that any securities offerings and investor communications comply with applicable registration and disclosure regulations.