The Capital Commitment

Proskauer on Private Equity Litigation

Joshua M. Newville

Joshua M. Newville

Partner

Joshua M. Newville is a partner in the Litigation Department in New York and a member of Proskauer's White Collar Defense & Investigations Group and the Asset Management Litigation team.

Josh handles securities litigation, enforcement and regulatory matters, representing corporations and senior executives in civil and criminal investigations. In addition, Josh advises registered investment advisers and private fund managers on regulatory compliance, SEC exams and related risks.

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SEC Enforcers Continue to Focus on Undisclosed Fees

In a series of enforcement cases over the past few months, the SEC has continued to bring actions focused on undisclosed fees charged to clients. Many of these cases have charged firms with fraud and other violations based on fees that were not adequately disclosed. While some attention has focused on retail wealth managers, institutional … Continue Reading

SEC Releases FY 2019 Enforcement Results: Increases in Investment Adviser Actions and Maintained Focus on Individual Accountability

Yesterday the SEC announced its enforcement results for FY 2019, accompanied by a report from the Co-Directors of its Division of Enforcement.  While the total number of actions increased slightly from 2018, the percentage of cases involving investment advisers or investment companies increased more dramatically, growing from 22% in 2018 to 36% in 2019, with … Continue Reading

Fund Sponsor’s Fee Calculation Mistake Leads to SEC Enforcement

A settlement last week involving a private equity fund sponsor is a reminder that compliance with fee calculation provisions and valuation policies and procedures are crucially important for fund managers.  Even when an error is the result of simple negligence, the SEC will take enforcement action when fee calculations do not strictly comply with the … Continue Reading

Veil-Piercing Risks for Private Equity Managers Highlighted in Recent Court Decision

A recent case in a North Dakota district court is a reminder to private equity funds and managers that, under certain conditions, they may be held responsible for actions of a fund’s portfolio companies.  Courts allow plaintiffs to pierce the corporate veil as a check against improper abuse of the corporate form.  When one corporate … Continue Reading

Proposed Senate Bill Would Significantly Impact Certain Private Funds and Their Affiliates

Recently, a group of Congress members introduced into Congress Senate Bill 2155 named the Stop Wall Street Looting Act of 2019. Although unlikely to be enacted into law as drafted, this proposed legislation would directly and substantially affect a number of fundamental operational aspects of private equity funds and their affiliates.… Continue Reading

Proskauer Launches Private Equity SEC Enforcement Tracker

Today, we are launching a proprietary database tracking all SEC enforcement actions involving private equity advisers. The tracker contains key information from the actions, including summaries of key issues, settlement terms, and relevant statutory provisions. The tracker will be an important resource for us and our clients, providing us with quick access to comparable cases … Continue Reading

SEC Announces New Approach to Disqualification Waivers

On July 3, 2019, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton issued a “Statement Regarding Offers of Settlement” (the “Statement”), announcing important changes to how the SEC will consider future requests for waivers from disqualifications in settlements.  The Statement may have been prompted by the Bad Actor Disqualification Act of 2019 recently proposed by Representative Maxine Waters.  Regardless … Continue Reading

SEC Fines Fund Manager $5 Million Over Undervaluation of Assets

A recent action where the SEC focused on the presumably conservative undervaluation of assets suggests that it is more than willing to use valuation as a hook to deter “smoothing” of returns. As we previously noted, while the SEC consistently announces that valuation is a “key area of focus,” it is uncommon for regulators to … Continue Reading

DC Circuit Opinion Reaffirms Fiduciary and Disclosure Obligations of Advisers While Rejecting SEC Finding of “Willful” Violations

The DC Circuit recently released an opinion addressing the SEC’s administrative findings against registered investment adviser The Robare Group (TRG) for failure to disclose alleged conflicts of interest. Although the court affirmed the SEC’s finding of a violation of Section 206(2) of the Advisers Act, it held that Commission could not find willful violations under … Continue Reading

Fraud Claims Against Startup Founder Involving Secondary Market Sales Demonstrate SEC Focus on Privately-Held Companies

Last week the SEC announced a settlement of fraud claims against the founder of Jumio, Inc, a private mobile payments company, for misstating the company’s financial results and using those financials to sell his company shares on the secondary market.  This case is a reminder that privately negotiated securities transactions and private, VC-funded companies are … Continue Reading

The Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2019

An increasingly sophisticated and active OCIE division, innovative market disruptors, a maturing credit cycle, and a philosophical change in how the private fund industry views and utilizes litigation are likely to lead to increased regulatory scrutiny and litigation risk for advisers (and their funds) in 2019.  With that backdrop, we are pleased to present our … Continue Reading

Valuation of Illiquid Securities as a Focus of Recent Enforcement Actions

While the SEC consistently announces that valuation is a “key area of focus,” it is uncommon for regulators to “second guess” valuation determinations in the absence of other potential violations. However, recent actions would suggest that the SEC is particularly interested in the valuations and methodologies behind illiquid securities. As we have noted here before, … Continue Reading

WSJ Article on Geolocation Data Highlights Risks for Fund Managers

On Friday, the WSJ published an article detailing how companies are monetizing smartphone location data by selling it to hedge fund clients.  The data vendor featured in the WSJ article obtains geolocation data from about 1,000 apps that fund managers use to predict trends involving public companies.  However, as we’ve noted, the use of alternative … Continue Reading

Bharara Task Force on Insider Trading

Former SDNY U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and SEC Commissioner Jackson recently announced, via NY Times op-ed, the creation of the Bharara Task Force on Insider Trading.  Based on the premise that U.S. insider trading laws are unclear and hopelessly out of date, the task force intends to propose new insider trading reforms to help clarify … Continue Reading

SEC Extends Registration Requirements for Investment Companies and Broker Dealers to ICOs and other Digital Assets

Fund managers take note – after over a year of warning, this month the SEC announced a pair of settlement orders with respect to registration requirements for a fund and broker dealer operating in the crypto and digital assets space. It was the agency’s first ever enforcement actions applying the investment company and broker-dealer registration … Continue Reading

Mt. Gox Debacle Showcases Cryptocurrency Litigation Concerns

The theft of millions of bitcoins and related failure of cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox—recently written about in the Wall Street Journal—provides a perfect example of how cryptocurrency-related issues can blossom into one of our Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks.  The WSJ article chronicles the journey of Kim Nilsson—one of the victims of the $400 … Continue Reading

SEC Enforcement Co-Director Gives Guidance for Wells Process, Part 2

On June 4, we posted a summary of SEC Enforcement Co-Director Steven Peikin observations during his recent keynote address at the New York City Bar Association’s 7th Annual White Collar Crime Institute.  Co-Director Peikin imparted a few suggested “do’s and don’ts” for effective communication with the SEC during the Wells process.  Although Co-Director Peikin’s suggestions should serve as helpful … Continue Reading

SEC Enforcement Co-Director Gives Guidance for Wells Process

During his recent keynote address at the New York City Bar Association’s 7th Annual White Collar Crime Institute, SEC Enforcement Co-Director Steven Peikin imparted a few suggested “do’s and don’ts” for effective communication with the SEC during the Wells process—typically the last opportunity to address potential charges prior to the authorization of a SEC enforcement … Continue Reading

Unicorns: The Tale Continues

Potential disputes involving unicorns have been a hot topic for the last several years.  We predicted that would continue this year in in our webinar and related blog post: The Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2018.  In April, the Regional Director of the SEC’s San Francisco office, Jina Choi, confirmed … Continue Reading

Regulatory Scrutiny of the ICO Market – What Fund Managers Should Know

Last week, former CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler explained in remarks at M.I.T. that he believes the second and third most widely used virtual currencies—Ether and Ripple—may have been issued and traded in violation of securities regulations. This comes on the heels of a crackdown on cryptocurrency-related securities by the SEC, which is particularly focused on … Continue Reading

SEC Staff Issues Risk Alert on the Six Most Frequent Fee and Expense Compliance Issues

On April 12, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations issued a risk alert listing the most common compliance issues concerning fees and expenses charged by SEC-registered investment advisers.  Advisers should review their practices, policies and procedures to ensure compliance with their advisory agreements and representations to clients in light of the fee … Continue Reading

The Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2018

With the public equity markets at an all-time high and private equity fund raising setting new records, it might seem counterintuitive to forecast litigation and regulatory risks.  The opposite is true.  Disputes typically follow capital, and the steeper the growth curve, the greater the risk of litigation and regulatory scrutiny.  With that backdrop, we are … Continue Reading

Chairman Clayton Asks Lawyers to Knock it Off with the Unregistered Coin Offerings

In his recent remarks at the Securities Regulation Institute, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton had some stern words for market professionals, especially lawyers, involved in initial coin offerings (ICOs).  He expressed concern that lawyers in the space “can do better” in their role as gatekeepers to the securities markets, particularly in advising clients whether the “coin” … Continue Reading

Five Things to Think About Before a Surprise SEC Exam

If a team from the SEC arrives at your office and says, “We are conducting an on-site examination and would like to talk to the CCO right now,” are you prepared? A handful of registered investment advisers have faced surprise SEC exams in recent months. These exams come in two flavors: either a “for cause” … Continue Reading
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