Justia Securities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Bankruptcy
Ashmore v. CGI Group, Inc.
Benjamin Ashmore appealed the district court's order dismissing him as the plaintiff in a whistleblower action under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. 1514A. Instead, the trustee of Ashmore's bankruptcy estate was substituted as plaintiff. The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the district court's dismissal of the case as to Ashmore and the substitution of the trustee as plaintiff were interlocutory orders that were not immediately appealable. The court vacated the temporary stay of the district court proceedings and denied Ashmore's pending motion to stay as moot. View "Ashmore v. CGI Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Grede v. Bank of New York
Sentinel, a cash-management firm, invested customers' cash in liquid low-risk securities. It also traded on its own account, using money borrowed from BNYM, pledging customers’ securities; 7 U.S.C. 6d(a)(2), 6d(b)), and the customers’ contracts required the securities to be held in segregated accounts. Sentinel experienced losses that prevented it from maintaining its collateral with BNYM and meeting customer demands for redemption of their securities. Sentinel used its BNYM line of credit to meet those demands. In 2007 it owed BNYM $573 million; it halted customer redemptions and declared bankruptcy. BNYM notified Sentinel that it planned to liquidate the collateral securing the loan. The bankruptcy trustee refused to classify BNYM as a senior secured creditor, considering the use of customer funds as collateral to be fraudulent transfers, 11 U.S.C. 548(a)(1)(A) and claiming that BNYM was aware of suspicious facts that should have led it to investigate. The district judge dismissed the claim, finding that Sentinel had not been shown to have intended to defraud its customers. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that Sentinel made fraudulent transfers. On remand, the judge neither conducted an evidentiary hearing nor made additional findings, but issued a “supplemental opinion” that BNYM was entitled to accept the collateral without investigation. The Seventh Circuit reversed in part. BNYM remains a creditor in the bankruptcy proceeding, but is an unsecured creditor because it was on inquiry notice that the pledged assets had been fraudulently conveyed. View "Grede v. Bank of New York" on Justia Law
ANZ Securities v. Giddens
This appeal concerns the proper application of Section 510(b) of the Bankruptcy Code in the Lehman bankruptcies. LBI, the debtor, was lead underwriter of unsecured notes issued by Lehman Holdings, its affiliates. After the bankruptcy of both the Lehman entity that issued the notes, Lehman Holdings, and the Lehman entity that was lead underwriter on the issuances, LBI, the Junior Underwriters were held to account for the noteholders' losses, and incurred loss for defense and settlements. The Junior Underwriters filed suit asserting claims for contribution or reimbursement against the liquidation estate of Debtor LBI. The bankruptcy court construed the statute to require subordination of the Junior Underwriters’ contribution claims. The court, however, adopted the district court's construction of section 510(b), holding that in the affiliate securities context, “the claim or interest represented by such security” means a claim or interest of the same type as the affiliate security. Claims arising from securities of a debtor’s affiliate should be subordinated in the debtor’s bankruptcy proceeding to all claims or interests senior or equal to claims in the bankruptcy proceeding that are of the same type as the underlying securities. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "ANZ Securities v. Giddens" on Justia Law
In Re: Bocchino
In 1996, Bocchino, a stockbroker, learned from a superior that Traderz “might go public” and that the endeavor was supported by “some commitment” from a popular fashion model. Based solely on that, and without any independent investigation into the quality of the entity, Bocchino immediately sought investment from clients. Bocchino received over $40,000 in commissions from Traderz sales. The second involved Fargo. The source of Bocchino’s information regarding Fargo is unclear. Bocchino only obtained cursory documentation about the entity before soliciting sales. He did not conduct any independent investigation, despite awareness that Fargo’s principal’s “full-time ‘job’ was law student.” Bocchino received $14,000 in commissions for his clients’ stock purchases in Fargo. Traderz and Fargo turned out to be fraudulent ventures. The principals of each entity were criminally convicted, and the anticipated value of the investments vanished. The Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil law enforcement actions against those who sold investments in the entities. The bankruptcy court held that those civil judgments against Bocchino were nondischargeable, 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(A). The district court and Third Circuit affirmed, finding that collapse of the private placements was neither abnormal nor extraordinary given Bocchino’s lack of due diligence. View "In Re: Bocchino" on Justia Law
Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v. Battoo
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission concluded that Battoo committed fraud. Battoo and his companies, all located outside the United States, defaulted in the suits. The district judge froze all assets pending a final decision about ownership. The court appointed a Receiver to marshal the remaining assets and try to determine ownership. The Receiver has been recognized as the assets’ legitimate controller in several other nations, including China (Hong Kong), Guernsey, and the Bahamas. Battoo defied the injunction and transferred control of some investment vehicles, located in the British Virgin Islands, to court-appointed Liquidators, who asked the judge to modify the injunction and allow them to distribute assets located in the U.S. or England immediately. The Liquidators maintain that, because Battoo no longer has control, the justification for freezing the assets has lapsed. The court assumed that the Liquidators are now under judicial control, but declined to modify the injunction, ruling that the funds should remain available so that an eventual master plan of distribution can treat all investors equitably. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. It is not clear whether some investment interests can be disentangled reliably from those affected by Battoo’s frauds against U.S. investors; the Liquidators have not argued that any investor is suffering loss as a result of the Receiver’s investment decisions. View "Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Battoo" on Justia Law
In re: Dynegy, Inc.,
Dynegy filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. Charles Silsby then filed a securities class action complaint against Dynegy and others alleging dissemination of false and misleading information and failure to disclose material facts about Dynegy's financial performance and prospects, in violation of securities laws. Stephen Lucas was appointed lead plaintiff in Silsby v. Icahn, the securities class action litigation. In this appeal, Lucas challenged the district court's conclusion that he lacked standing to opt out of or object to the joint reorganization plan on behalf of the putative class in the securities litigation. The court concluded that Lucas' status as lead plaintiff of the putative class in the district court securities litigation did not automatically extend to the bankruptcy proceedings; because Lucas did not seek application of Rule 23 in bankruptcy court, he represented no one but himself; and since he opted out of the release in his individual capacity, Lucas lacks standing to appeal the order confirming the Plan. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In re: Dynegy, Inc.," on Justia Law
Peterson v. Winston & Strawn, LLP
After the mutual funds, known as the Lancelot or Colossus group, folded in 2008, the trustee in bankruptcy filed independent suits or adversary actions seeking to recover from solvent third parties, including the Funds’ auditor, law firm, and some of the Funds’ investors, which the Trustee believes received preferential transfers or fraudulent conveyances. The Funds had invested in notes issued by Thousand Lakes, which was actually a Ponzi scheme, paying old investors with newly raised money. In these proceedings the trustee contends that investors who redeemed shares before the bankruptcy received preferential transfers, 11 U.S.C. 547, or fraudulent conveyances, 11 U.S.C. 548(a)(1)(B) and raised a claim under the Illinois fraudulent-conveyance statute, using the avoiding power of 11 U.S.C. 544. The bankruptcy court dismissed the claims against the law firm that prepared circulars for the Firms. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. No Illinois court has held that failure to report a corporate manager’s acts to the board of directors exposes a law firm to malpractice liability. The complaint does not plausibly allege that alerting the directors would have made a difference.View "Peterson v. Winston & Strawn, LLP" on Justia Law
Peterson v. Somers Dublin, Ltd.
After the mutual funds, known as the Lancelot or Colossus group, folded in 2008, the trustee in bankruptcy filed independent suits or adversary actions seeking to recover from solvent third parties, including the Funds’ auditor, law firm, and some of the Funds’ investors, which the Trustee believes received preferential transfers or fraudulent conveyances. The Funds had invested in notes issued by Thousand Lakes, which was actually a Ponzi scheme, paying old investors with newly raised money. In these proceedings the trustee contends that investors who redeemed shares before the bankruptcy received preferential transfers, 11 U.S.C. 547, or fraudulent conveyances, 11 U.S.C. 548(a)(1)(B) and raised a claim under the Illinois fraudulent-conveyance statute, using the avoiding power of 11 U.S.C. 544. The bankruptcy court rejected the claims, citing the statutory exception: “the trustee may not avoid a settlement payment or transfer made to a financial participant in connection with a securities contract, except under section 548(a)(1)(A) of this title.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A transfer from the Funds to each redeeming investor occurred “in connection with” a securities contract.View "Peterson v. Somers Dublin, Ltd." on Justia Law
Grede v. FCStone LLC
Sentinel specialized in short-term cash management, promising to invest customers’ cash in safe securities for good returns with high liquidity. Customers did not acquire rights to specific securities, but received a pro rata share of the value of securities in an investment pool (Segment) based on the type of customer and regulations that applied to that customer. Segment 1 was protected by the Commodity Exchange Act; Segment 3 customers by the Investment Advisors Act and SEC regulations. Despite those laws, Sentinel lumped cash together, used it to purchase risky securities, and issued misleading statements. Some securities were collateral for a loan (BONY). In 2007 customers began demanding cash and BONY pressured Sentinel for payment. Sentinel moved $166 million in corporate securities out of a Segment 1 trust to a lienable account as collateral for BONY and sold Segment 1 and 3 securities to pay BONY. Sentinel filed for bankruptcy after returning $264 million to Segment 1 from a lienable account and moving $290 million from the Segment 3 trust to the lienable account. After informing customers that it would not honor redemption requests, Sentinel distributed the full cash value of their accounts to some Segment 1 groups. After filing for bankruptcy Sentinel obtained bankruptcy court permission to have BONY distribute $300 million from Sentinel accounts to favored customers. The trustee obtained district court approval to avoid the transfers, 11 U.S.C. 547; 11 U.S.C. 549. The Seventh Circuit, noting the unique conflict between the rights of two groups of wronged customers, reversed. Sentinel’s pre-petition transfer fell within the securities exception in 11 U.S.C. 546(e); the post-petition transfer was authorized by the bankruptcy court, 11 U.S.C. 549. Neither can be avoided.View "Grede v. FCStone LLC" on Justia Law
Mathews v. Cassidy Turley Md., Inc.
After Petitioner sold certain properties, he used the proceeds to purchase fractional interests in commercial office buildings. The fractional interests were called Tenants in Common Interests (TICs), and each of the TICs was promoted by a company called DBSI, Inc. DBSI later filed a petition for bankruptcy, and the properties underlying Petitioner's TICs became the subject of foreclosure proceedings. The bankruptcy court determined that many of DBSI's transactions were fraudulent. Petitioner filed a complaint against Cassidy Turley Maryland (Defendant), under whose advice Petitioner acted in purchasing the TICs, alleging that Defendant failed to disclose material facts regarding the investment. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Petitioner's investment in this case was a "security" for purposes of the Maryland Securities Act; (2) the circuit court erred in determining that Petitioner's claims under the Act relating to fraud and misrepresentation by Defendant were barred by limitations; (3) the court erred in concluding that Petitioner's common law tort claims were time-barred as a matter of law; and (4) the court did not err in deciding to reserve judgment on the admissibility of a bankruptcy examiner's report until it had further information. View "Mathews v. Cassidy Turley Md., Inc." on Justia Law