Articles Posted in Securities Law

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New York’s champerty law prohibits the purchase of notes, securities, or other instruments or claims with the intent and for the primary purpose of bringing a lawsuit. Appellant brought this action against Respondents alleging that Respondents’ fraud and malfeasance in managing two investment vehicles caused a significant decline in the value of notes purchased by a nonparty, from whom Plaintiff acquired the notes days before it commenced this action. Respondents raised the affirmative defense of champerty, arguing that Plaintiff’s acquisition of the Notes was champertous under Judiciary Law 489. Supreme Court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Plaintiff’s acquisition of the notes from the nonparty was champertous and that Plaintiff was not entitled to the protection of the champerty safe harbor of Judiciary Law 489(2). The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s acquisition of the notes was champertous; and (2) Plaintiff was not entitled to the proaction of the safe harbor provision. View "Justinian Capital SPC v. WestLB AG" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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Two certificateholders in ACE Securities Corp., Home Equity Loan Trust sued DB Structured Products (DBSP) for failure to repurchase loans that purportedly did not conform to the representations and warranties of DBSP, which sponsored the transaction. The Trust later sought to substitute itself as plaintiff in place of the certificateholders. DBSP moved to dismiss the complaint as untimely, arguing that the Trust’s claims accrued as of March 28, 2006, more than six years before the Trust filed its complaint. DBSP further contended that the certificateholders did not validly commence this action and lacked standing to sue. Supreme Court denied DBSP’s motion to dismiss and held the Trust’s action to be timely.The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Trust’s cause of action against DBSP for breach of representations and warranties accrued at the point of contract execution on March 28, 2006; and (2) even assuming that the certificateholders possessed standing to sue, the two certificateholders did not validly commence this action because they failed to comply with the contractual condition precedent to suit. View "ACE Sec. Corp. v DB Structured Prods., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued several defendants in the Delaware Court of Chancery for alleged wrongdoing related to notes purchased by Plaintiff and issued by one of the defendants. Defendants moved to dismiss, claiming that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by a no-action clause contained in the indenture agreement governing Plaintiff’s notes. The Delaware Supreme Court remanded the case for the Court of Chancery for consideration of the issues under New York law. On remand, the Court of Chancery concluded that the majority of Plaintiff’s claims were not barred under the no-action clause and that dismissal and partial dismissal were warranted with respect to the remaining claims because only those claims arose under the indenture. In response to certified questions from the Delaware Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals concluded (1) a trust indenture’s no-action clause that specifically precludes enforcement of contractual claims arising under the indenture, but omits reference to “the Securities,” does not bar a securityholder’s independent common law or statutory claims; and (2) the Court of Chancery correctly found that the no-action clause in this case, which referred only to “this Indenture,” precluded enforcement only of contractual claims arising under the Indenture. View "Quadrant Structured Prods. Co., Ltd. v. Vertin" on Justia Law

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Petitioner and Ajmal Khan, principal of Verus Investment Holdings, purchased securities in a company to arbitrage a merger between that company and another company (the trade). Petitioner and Khal used Verus' account at Jefferies & Co. and Winton Capital Holding to complete the purchase. After the merger, Jefferies wired to Verus the original investment and profits attributable to the Winton funds. Verus wired the investment money to Winton and the profits to Doris Lindbergh, a friend of Petitioner. Tax authorities later informed Jefferies it owed withholding tax on the trade. Pursuant to an arbitration clause in an agreement between Jefferies and Verus, Jefferies commenced an arbitration against Verus for the unpaid taxes. Verus, in turn, asserted thirty-party arbitration claims against Petitioner, Lindbergh, and others for their share of the taxes. After a hearing, Supreme Court determined that nonsignatories Petitioner and Lindbergh could not be compelled to arbitrate. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Petitioner should be estopped from avoiding arbitration because he knowingly exploited and received direct benefits from the agreement between Jefferies and Verus. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Petitioner did not receive a direct benefit from the arbitration agreement and could not be compelled to arbitrate. View "Belzberg v. Verus Invs. Holdings Inc." on Justia Law

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The Attorney General (AG) sued two of the former officers of American International Group, Inc. (AIG), alleging that Defendants violated the Martin Act and committed common law fraud. Specifically, the AG claimed that Defendants helped cause AIG to enter into a sham transaction with General Reinsurance Corporation (GenRe) in which AIG purported to reinsure GenRe on certain insurance contracts. The AG withdrew his claims for damages and now sought only equitable relief. The Appellate Division denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the evidence of Defendants' knowledge of the fraudulent nature of the transaction was sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact; and (2) the AG was not barred as a matter of law from obtaining equitable relief. View "People v. Greenberg" on Justia Law

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In 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) notified Bear Stearns & Co. and Bear Stearns Securities Corp. of its intention to charge Bear Stearns with violations of federal securities laws. Bear Stearns agreed to pay $160 million as a disgorgement and $90 million as a civil penalty. Bear Stearns then sought indemnification from its insurers (Insurers), requesting indemnity for the $160 million SEC disgorgement payment. Insurers denied coverage. Bear Stearns subsequently brought this breach of contract and declaratory judgment action against Insurers. Insurers unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the complaint. The Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the complaint, holding that, as a matter of public policy, Bear Stearns could not seek coverage under its policies for any of the SEC disgorgement payment. Bear Stearns appealed, arguing that, while it was reasonable to preclude an insured from obtaining indemnity for the disgorgement of its own illegal gains, Bear Stearns was not unjustly enriched by at least $140 million of the disgorgement payment, the sum attributable to the profits of its customers. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Insurers did not meet their burden of establishing, as a matter of law, that Bear Stearns was barred from pursuing insurance coverage under its policies. View "J.P. Morgan Sec. Inc. v. Vigilant Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was a 15% partner in defendant Peconic Partners (hedge fund), as well as Chief Compliance Officer. Plaintiff alleged that he was subsequently fired after a dispute with Peconic Partners' CEO and President (Defendant Harnisch). The gist of plaintiff's claim was that the legal and ethical duties of a securities firm and its compliance officer justified recognizing a cause of action for damages when the compliance officer was fired for objecting to misconduct. The court held in Murphy v American Home Prods. Corp that New York common law did not recognize a cause of action for the wrongful discharge of an at-will employee. Therefore, the court declined in this case to make an exception to that rule for the compliance of a hedge fund. View "Sullivan v Harnisch" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued defendant asserting causes of action for breach of fiduciary duty, gross negligence, and breach of contract where the gravamen of the complaint was that defendant mismanaged the portfolio of an entity whose obligations plaintiff guaranteed. At issue was whether the Martin Act, General Business Law art 23-A, preempted plaintiff's common-law causes of action for breach of fiduciary duty and gross negligence. The court agreed with plaintiff that the Martin Act did not preclude a private litigant from bringing a nonfraud common-law cause of action where the Martin Act did not expressly mention or otherwise contemplate the elimination of common-law claims. View "Assured Guar. (UK) Ltd. v J.P. Morgan Inv. Mgt. Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, companies that acquired Floating Rate Accrual Notes (FRANs), commenced numerous separate actions against Argentina seeking damages for the nation's default on the bonds and the claims were subsequently consolidated. At issue, through certified questions, was whether Argentina's obligation to make biannual interest-only payments to a bondholder continued after maturity or acceleration of the indebtedness, and if so, whether the bondholders were entitled to CPLR 5001 prejudgment interest on payments that were not made as a consequence of the nation's default. The court answered the certified questions in the affirmative and held that the FRANs certificate required the issuer to continue to make biannual interest payments post-maturity while the principal remained unpaid; having concluded that the obligation to make biannual interest payments continued after the bonds matured if principal was not promptly repaid, and that nothing in the bond documents indicated that the payments were to stop in the event of acceleration of the debt, it followed that Argentina's duty to make the payments continued after NML Capital accelerated its $32 million of the debt in February 2005; and based on the court's analysis in Spodek v. Park Prop. Dev. Assoc., the bondholders were entitled to prejudgment interest under CPLR 5001 on the unpaid biannual interest payments that were due, but were not paid, after the loads were either accelerated or matured on the due date. View "NML Capital v. Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued the former spouse of Stephen Walsh, who was a defendant in related actions brought by plaintiffs, alleging that the property derived from Walsh's illegal securities activities went into the former spouse's possession under the parties' separation agreement and divorce decree. At issue, in certified questions to the court, was whether the former spouse had a legitimate claim to those funds, which would prevent plaintiffs from obtaining disgorgement from her. The court held that an innocent spouse who received possession of tainted property in good faith and gave fair consideration for it should prevail over the claims of the original owner or owners consistent with the state's strong public policy of ensuring finality in divorce proceedings. View "Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Walsh, et al." on Justia Law