Articles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals

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Kluger and Bauer were charged as conspirators in an insider-trading scheme in which Robinson was the third participant. The conspiracy spanned 17 years and was likely the longest such scheme in U.S. history. Kluger entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit securities fraud; securities fraud; conspiracy to commit money laundering; and obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. 371, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b) and 78ff(a); 18 U.S.C. 1956(h), 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2), and 18 U.S.C. 2. The plea agreement did not include a stipulation as to the guidelines sentencing range. The district court imposed a 60-month term on Count I and 144-month custodial terms on each other count, all to be served concurrently, thought to be the longest insider-trading sentence ever imposed. After a separate hearing on the same day, the court sentenced Bauer to a 60-month term on Count I and 108-month terms on each other count to be served concurrently. Robinson, who was the “middleman,” in the scheme, pled guilty to three counts and was sentenced to concurrent 27-month terms. Robinson’s sentence was far below his guidelines range of 70 to 87 months but the prosecution sought a downwards departure because Robinson was cooperating in its investigation and prosecution. The Third Circuit upheld Kluger’s sentence. View "United States v. Kluger" on Justia Law

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Office of Investigations (OIG) found that the SEC had received numerous substantive complaints since 1992 that raised significant concerns about Madoff’s hedge fund operations that should have led to a thorough investigation of the possibility that Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme. The SEC conducted five examinations and investigations, but never took the steps necessary to determine whether Madoff was misrepresenting his trading. The OIG found that had these efforts been made, the SEC could have uncovered the Ponzi scheme. Madoff’s clients filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671, to recover damages resulting from the SEC’s failure to uncover and terminate the scheme in a timely manner. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the claims were barred by the discretionary function exception to the FTCA. The Third Circuit affirmed, reasoning that SEC regulations afford examiners discretion regarding the timing, manner, and scope of investigations and that there is a strong presumption that the SEC’s conduct is susceptible to policy analysis. View "Baer v. United States" on Justia Law

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Defendants are MB, a registered investment adviser, and people affiliated with MB. A fraudulent scheme was perpetrated by Bloom while he was an employee and officer of MB, through a hedge fund called North Hills that Bloom controlled and managed outside the scope of his responsibilities at MB. Bloom was arrested and indicted in New York in 2009 on charges relating to the Ponzi scheme, by which time most of the money invested in North Hills was gone. Investors filed suit, alleging: controlling person liability under Section 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act; negligent supervision; violations of Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5; violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law; and breach of fiduciary duty. The district court rejected all claims. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded with respect to MB on the claims for violations of Rule 10b-5 and the state UTPCPL, and otherwise affirmed. View "Belmont v. MB Inv. Partners, Inc." on Justia Law

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Participants in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan brought suit under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. 1001, and the Investment Company Act of 1940, 15 U.S.C. 80a-1, claiming excessive fees on annuity insurance contracts offered to plan participants. The district court dismissed the ICA claims because only those maintaining an ownership interest in the funds could sue under the derivative suit provision and the participants are no longer investors in the funds in question. As to the ERISA claims, the court dismissed because participants failed to make a pre-suit demand upon the plan trustees to take appropriate action and failed to join the trustees as parties. The Third Circuit affirmed with regards to the ICA claims, but vacated on the ERISA counts, holding that the statute does not require pre-suit demand or joinder of trustees. View "Santomenno v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Defendant, a licensed financial adviser, pled guilty to 34 counts of mail fraud (18 U.S.C. 1341), wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1343), and bank fraud (18 U.S.C. 1344) based on his solicitation of bank clients to invest in speculative real estate transactions that he controlled, unrelated to bank products, an illegal practice in the securities industry known as "selling away." The Government accused him of collecting $1.55 million between October 2002 and January 2006. The district court denied his motion to withdraw the plea when he claimed that his prior attorney, unprepared to go to trial, had browbeaten him. The court imposed a sentence of 180 months and $1.3 million in restitution. The Third Circuit affirmed. With no evidence of actual innocence and the death of some of the government's elderly witnesses, there was no "fair and just" reason to allow withdrawal of the plea. Because defendant was an investment advisor when he initiated the fraud, the court properly applied a four-level enhancement at section 2B1.1(b)(16)(A); an obstruction of justice enhancement was justified by defendant's lies concerning his guilty plea and his contact with witnesses. View "United States v. Siddon" on Justia Law

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Following disclosure of misrepresentations and omissions concerning collateral, the company, which provides loans for purchase of medical equipment, sought bankruptcy protection. The district court certified a class of investors for litigation under the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78j with respect to all but one defendant. The Third Circuit affirmed. Class certification requires that issues common to the class predominate over other issues; defendants argued that some "in-and-out" traders did not rely on the disclosures and did not have losses caused by the alleged omissions. The district court correctly examined the relationship between disclosures and security prices and applied a presumption of reliance so that plaintiffs were not required to prove causation at the certification stage. Denial of class certification with respect to a law firm defendant was proper because the presumption of reliance and causation does not apply; the allegedly deceptive conduct was not publicly attributable to the firm, which did not file the deceptive documents.