SEC “Claws Back” Bonuses and Stock Sale Profits From CFOs of Public Company Charged With Accounting Fraud
On February 10, 2015, the SEC announced settlements with two former chief financial officers of Saba Software, a Silicon Valley software company, that require the CFOs to repay Saba more than $500,000 in bonuses and profits from stock sales earned subsequent to Saba’s false filings. Notably, the SEC did not allege that either former officer violated the federal securities laws in any fashion, nor was there evidence of either officer’s knowledge of, or complicity in, the underlying conduct that prompted the company to settle accounting fraud charges lodged against it by the SEC in September 2014. See Press Release, SEC Announces Half-Million Dollar Clawback from CFOs of Silicon Valley Company that Committed Accounting Fraud (Feb. 10, 2015).
The first CFO, William Slater, a former accountant who served as CFO from November 2011 through February 2013, and the second, Peter E. Williams … Read More »
UPDATE: Third Circuit Affirms Arbitrability of Dodd-Frank Retaliation Claim in Khazin v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., ___ F.3d ___, No. 14-1689, 2014 WL 6871393 (3d Cir. Dec. 8, 2014).
In March, we wrote about a ruling out of the District of New Jersey enforcing an arbitration provision contained in an employment agreement that pre-dated Dodd-Frank. The court reasoned that to disregard a pre-Dodd-Frank arbitration provision “would fundamentally interfere with the parties’ contractual rights and would impair the predictability and stability of their earlier agreement.” Khazin v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., Civil Action No. 13-4149 (SDW)(MCA), 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31142 (D.N.J. Mar. 11, 2014). The court also emphasized the “strong federal policy in favor of the resolution of disputes through arbitration” and cited a number of other federal courts that have reached a similar result. Id.
The Third Circuit, though, declined to reach this issue. Instead, it determined that Khazin’s claim, which was brought under Dodd-Frank, was not subject to the Anti-Arbitration Provision at all. 2014 WL 6871393, at *2. … Read More »
Made for the U.S.A Only: Second Circuit Holds That the Dodd-Frank Act’s Antiretaliation Provision Applies Only Domestically
According to the SEC, in fiscal year 2013, foreign whistleblowers accounted for 404 of the 3,238 whistleblower reports received by the SEC (nearly 12%). Recently, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals may have significantly undermined incentives for foreign tipsters to report potential violations to the SEC.
On August 14, 2014, the Second Circuit held that the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower antiretaliation provision (15 U.S.C. § 78u-6(h)(1)) does not apply “extraterritorially” and thus did not cover a foreign tipster’s allegation that he had been terminated for reporting potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations to his employer. Liu v. Siemens AG, Docket No. 13-cv-4385 (2d Cir. Aug. 14, 2014). The antiretaliation provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, which gives employees easy access to U.S. district courts, prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblowers employees who make certain protected disclosures. The provision incentivizes reporting and facilitates … Read More »
Recent Decision Demonstrates Reach of Lawson; Extends SOX Whistleblower Protections to Employee of a Nonpublic Subsidiary of a Public Issuer
We recently blogged about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lawson v. FMR LLC, 571 S. Ct. __, 188 L. Ed. 2d 158 (Mar. 4, 2014), which held that the whistleblower protections in section 1514A applied not only to the direct employees of public companies, but also to employees of private contractors and subcontractors serving public companies. See “Lawson and Doral Expand Whistleblower Protections,” SECurities Law Perspectives (Apr. 2, 2014). Taking the lead from Lawson and more recent decisions from the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board (“ARB”), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled that an employee of a nonpublic subsidiary of a public issuer could proceed with his retaliation claims against the company. Wiest v. Lynch, __ F. Supp. 2d __, Civil Action No. 10-3288, 2014 WL 1490250, at *18–23 (E.D. Pa. Apr. … Read More »
Two recent decisions interpreting the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have significantly expanded the protections available for federal whistleblowers and increase the potential liability for public companies and private companies that contract for public companies.
In Lawson v. FMR LLC, 571 S. Ct. __, 188 L. Ed. 2d 158 (Mar. 4, 2014), the U.S. Supreme Court held that SOX protects from retaliation not only the direct employees of public companies, but also employees of private contractors and subcontractors serving public companies. At issue in Lawson was the scope of the protected class in section 1514A of the statute:
No [public] company … or any officer, employee, contractor, subcontractor, or agent of such company, may discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or in any other manner discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment because of any lawful act done by the … Read More »