Category: SEC Enforcement

General Counsel Permitted to Use Attorney-Client Privileged Information in Whistleblower Retaliation Case

Rachel Benedict

In a recent case, Wadler v. Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. case number 3:15-cv-02356 (2016), the federal court in the Northern District of California ruled that the plaintiff and former general counsel of Bio-Rad Laboratories could use attorney-client privileged information to support his claim of whistleblower retaliation. The court determined that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s whistleblower protections preempt the state ethical rules against disclosure of attorney-client privileged information....

Do Your Confidentiality Clauses Expressly Allow Whistleblowing?

Christopher L. Doerksen

Over the last few months, the SEC has obtained a string of cease and desist orders against SEC reporting companies, both domestic and foreign, to enforce an often overlooked rule adopted under Dodd-Frank.  Rule 21F-17 provides that “[n]o person may take any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the [SEC] staff about a possible securities law violation, including enforcing, or threatening to...

Whistling through the Graveyard: The Future of the SEC’s Whistleblower Program

Bryn R. Vaaler

The SEC announced on November 14 that it had made an award of more than $20 million to another whistleblower.  This was the third highest award since the agency began paying them out in 2012, and it brings the total of such awards under the SEC’s program to more than $130 million.  Although the current whistleblower program has been criticized by conservative groups such as...

Can a shareholder who is unable to rely on the HSR passive investor exemption still file a Schedule 13G? Maybe, says the SEC Staff in new guidance

Kimberley R. Anderson

Last Tuesday, the US Department of Justice announced a record $11 million fine against an activist investment firm for improperly claiming an exemption from Hart-Scott-Rodino’s notification and waiting period provisions reserved for passive investors.  Two days later, in the wake of the DOJ’s announcement, the SEC Staff issued guidance stating that the inability to rely on the HSR passive investor exemption (relating to the acquisition...