The month of March has brought with it the first-ever criminal municipal bond securities fraud conviction, the resolution of enforcement actions targeting banks and senior executives accused of shirking duties to oversee municipal bond issuances, and proposed rule amendments intended to improve municipal securities disclosures—continuing a trend of intensified regulatory enforcement that targets industry “gatekeepers” such as auditors, bond underwriters, and others that serve investor clients entering the municipal bond market.   
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The air of uncertainty was palpable as current and former members of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Enforcement spoke at the Securities Regulation Institute’s 44th Annual Conference in Coronado, California earlier this week.  Important questions went largely unanswered about the impact of the recent resignations of both SEC Chair Mary Jo White and Enforcement Director Andrew J. Ceresney, and the future direction of the enforcement program under the new presidential administration and proposed SEC Chair Jay Clayton.  SEC Enforcement staff in attendance steered clear of prognostications, and instead used the conference as an opportunity to reiterate the agency’s ongoing enforcement initiatives and successes from the past year.
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The massive Panama Papers leak has attracted attention to the use of offshore business entities and implicated 2,400 U.S.-based clients of Mossack Fonseca. U.S. taxpayers with offshore assets should be wary of increased scrutiny by federal regulators, which may lead to criminal cases brought by U.S. Department of Justice.

In this update we detail the

In the largest action brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, the DOJ seeks to recover over $1 billion in assets bought with laundered funds misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”), a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. 1MDB was created by the Malaysian government to promote economic development through international partnerships and foreign direct investment. The

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced an administrative settlement with Apex Fund Services (US) Inc., a firm providing administrative services to private funds, based on its alleged failure to heed red flags and correct faulty accounting by two private equity managers.

The SEC alleged that, in carrying out its contractual fund administration functions,

On May 23, 2016, the Second Circuit presented a significant setback to the Department of Justice (DOJ) by reversing a $1.27 billion penalty against Bank of America and Countrywide Loans.  As we’ve posted before, in October 2012, DOJ filed a civil suit against Bank of America and Countrywide based on mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The Government alleged that Countrywide had a program named “the Hustle” or “High-Speed Swim Lane,” which rewarded the speed of processing residential mortgage loans regardless of their quality.  This, according to the Government, resulted in thousands of fraudulent or defective loans that were subsequently sold to Government Sponsored Entities (GSEs) such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Although Countrywide started the program in August 2007, the program continued after Bank of America purchased Countrywide in 2008.  
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At the annual “SEC Speaks” conference held Feb. 19-20, 2016, in Washington, D.C., SEC Chairman Mary Jo White’s opening remarks cautioned that the SEC should not be considered a mere “disclosure agency,” as she promised to use all of the tools at the SEC’s disposal to carry out its regulatory mission. White underscored that these

[Editor’s Note:  This past Friday, Perkins Coie Partner Lou Mejia, former SEC Chief Litigation Counsel, joined the chair of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Financial Reporting and Audit Group on a panel to discuss the agency’s latest enforcement efforts surrounding financial reporting fraud].

Margaret McGuire, the chair of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Financial Reporting and Audit Group (formerly a “Task Force”), participated in a panel at the American Law Institute’s Accountants’ Liability 2015 Conference in Washington, D.C. on October 2, 2015, during which she outlined the Group’s latest enforcement initiatives.  The Financial Reporting and Audit Group was formed in 2013 with the stated goal to strengthen the agency’s efforts to identify and prosecute securities law violations related to financial reporting and audit failures.  From 2013 to 2014 alone, the percentage of audit firm clients sued by the SEC more than tripled (4% to 14%).
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Note: An earlier post on Perkins Coie’s In the Arena: Law and Politics Update discussed, from a campaign finance lawyer’s perspective, why the prosecution in United States v. Harber signals greater jeopardy in the future for operatives in down-ballot races who coordinate with hastily-formed “super PACs.” And an earlier version of this post, which offers