The Capital Commitment

Proskauer on Private Fund Litigation

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Samuel J. Waldon

Sam Waldon is a partner in the Litigation Department and a member of the Securities Litigation, White Collar Defense & Investigations and Asset Management Litigation Groups.

Sam’s practice focuses on securities litigation, enforcement and regulatory matters. He represents corporations and financial institutions, and their officers, directors and employees, in investigations, exams, internal investigations and litigation. Sam has in-depth experience in a broad range of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement matters, including financial disclosure, accounting, investment adviser, asset management, private equity, broker dealer, FCPA, cyber-related misconduct, insider trading and market abuse.

Before joining Proskauer, Sam served as Assistant Chief Counsel in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement for eight years. In that role, Sam helped develop and implement many of the Division’s policies and procedures, and advised the Division’s senior leadership, investigative staff and trial unit attorneys on a wide range of legal and policy issues. He regularly provided guidance on the terms of negotiated settlements and charging decisions in litigated matters. Sam also worked closely with staff in other Divisions and Offices throughout the SEC on enforcement related issues, including playing a key role in the drafting of the rules establishing the SEC’s whistleblower program.

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Navigating Brexit: What Funds Should Look Out for as the Dust Begins to Settle

As a result of Brexit, UK-regulated firms will already have grappled with loss of passporting and equivalence measures, and the need to navigate national regimes and relocate staff. As of today, EU firms operating in the UK have a temporary permissions regime with the UK having set out its approach to equivalence, but this remains … Continue Reading

Private Credit Lenders Should Remain Vigilant in 2021

Private credit lenders began 2020 facing the dual challenges of an increased risk of defaults and a lack of strong financial covenants, and the pandemic sparked a significant increase in defaults to 8.1% in Q2. However, borrower defaults in Q3 and Q4 were lower than anticipated following the COVID-fueled spike in Q2, due in part to … Continue Reading

Focus on ESG Will Continue to Grow Under Biden Administration

In 2021, the global impact of environmental, social and corporate governance (“ESG”) investing will continue to grow, with key implications for the asset management industry. The new European regime on sustainability-related disclosures in the financial sector will roll out in March 2021, affecting both European and non-European asset managers alike. In the U.S., where there … Continue Reading

Return to Civil and Criminal Collaboration in White Collar under Biden Administration

Under the Biden Administration, we expect the Department of Justice to reinvigorate the policies aimed at increasing coordination between the criminal and civil divisions.  In a 2015 Memorandum – the “Yates Memo” – former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates pushed for “early and regular communication” between civil and criminal division attorneys in their pursuit of … Continue Reading

Cryptocurrencies and Other Digital Assets: A New Regime

Cryptocurrencies and digital assets will continue to be an area of intense regulatory focus, but a new administration may bring new regulations. SEC Chairman Gensler has extensive experience with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, including a teaching stint at MIT. However, Gensler has alternated between censure and praise, referring to cryptocurrencies and blockchain both as an “innovative irritant” … Continue Reading

New Focus and Compliance Approach Needed for Privacy and Cybersecurity

In 2020, we saw an increased regulatory focus on cybersecurity. Though former SEC Chairman Clayton largely took the view that existing statutes and regulations were sufficient, the Division of Examinations increased exam activities in the space while agencies like FinCEN increased enforcement against violators. We can expect to see a continued focus on cybersecurity going … Continue Reading

Portfolio Companies Continue to be a Source of Litigation Risk

A significant ownership stake in a portfolio company has always raised the specter of claims against funds, sponsors, and sponsor-appointed board designees, if for no other reason than they are perceived by the plaintiffs’ bar to be deep pockets.  This risk has only increased in recent years, as it has become less taboo – indeed, … Continue Reading

Valuation in Times of Market Disruption

Valuation practices will continue to be the subject of disputes. Particularly in times of economic disruption and market volatility, buyers and sellers are more likely to have substantial differences of opinions on valuation, which often lead to the use of earn-outs and resulting post-closing disputes. Use of a cost basis for recently acquired assets may … Continue Reading

The Ripples Behind the SPAC Wave

The past year saw a burst in popularity of SPACs. More than half of companies that went public in 2020 did so using a SPAC on their way to raising over $80 billion in proceeds, and so far in 2021 SPAC offerings far outpace traditional IPOs. SPACs allow companies to go public with greater speed … Continue Reading

Increased Regulatory Scrutiny of Private Funds

President Biden has signaled a shift to a more assertive SEC Enforcement program with the nomination, and expected confirmation, of Gary Gensler as the next Chair of the SEC.  Mr. Gensler previously served as the Chairman of the CFTC from 2009 to 2014, where he established a reputation as a forceful regulator. This reputation suggests … Continue Reading

Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2021

The regulatory and litigation risks for private funds are greater than at any time since the financial crisis in 2008. Just a few examples prove the point: the pandemic (which caused extraordinary volatility in revenues and valuations for most asset categories); a new administration in Washington D.C. (with a more muscular regulatory agenda); continued proliferation … Continue Reading

Three Critical Questions That Will (Hopefully) be Answered by the SEC’s Lawsuit against Ripple

Late last year, the SEC filed a litigated action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Ripple Labs Inc. and two of its executive officers (collectively, “Ripple”), alleging that Ripple raised over $1.3 billion in unregistered offerings of the digital asset known as XRP. Ripple opted not to file … Continue Reading

President Biden’s SEC Enforcement Program: What Should Private Fund Managers Expect?

As President Biden continues to assemble his economic team, reports have emerged that President Biden will nominate Gary Gensler as the next Chair of the SEC.  The nomination of Mr. Gensler would clearly signal a more assertive SEC when it comes to both regulation and enforcement.  And while it is too early to predict exactly … Continue Reading

SEC Enforcement’s 2020 Annual Report Reflects Shifting Priorities for Fund Managers: Four Key Takeaways

On Monday the SEC announced its enforcement results for FY 2020, accompanied by a report from the Director of its Division of Enforcement. This report confirms what we have seen over the past year for private fund managers: although OCIE has been more active on adviser examinations, we’ve seen a bit less enforcement activity. Yet … Continue Reading

SEC Announces 2020 National Compliance Outreach Seminar for Investment Companies and Investment Advisers

On October 7th, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the rescheduled date of its 2020 national compliance outreach seminar for investment companies and investment advisers.  This program is intended to help Chief Compliance Officers and other senior personnel at investment companies and investment advisory firms enhance their compliance programs.  The SEC’s Office of … Continue Reading

Asserting Reliance on Compliance Consultants as a Defense: Admissibility and Effectiveness

Asset managers commonly engage regulatory compliance consultants to aid them in addressing regulatory requirements and implementing compliance programs. The work of those compliance professionals can be drawn into SEC enforcement actions in various contexts.  See, e.g., ZPR Investment Mgmt. Inc. v. SEC (compliance consultant resigned when advice not followed and testified in proceeding). One such context … Continue Reading

Private Equity and Cybersecurity: A Guide to Preparing for and Responding to a Breach

A cyber breach can have serious legal, financial, and reputational consequences for a fund sponsor, as described in our previous post. As such, cybersecurity threats must be treated as business risks, not just a potential IT problem. Senior management at fund sponsors should take the lead to ensure that the sponsor is taking appropriate actions … Continue Reading

Poison Pills In the Wake of COVID-19: A Refresher on Terms and Variations of Shareholder Rights Plans

Shareholder rights plans, commonly known as “poison pills,” are arrangements that can be used by companies to stave off hostile takeovers or activist investors seeking to exert control over a company without paying a control premium. A typical rights plan, if triggered, would allow all shareholders except the triggering person to purchase additional shares in … Continue Reading

Private Equity Adviser Settles with SEC for Misallocation of Internal Expenses Relating to “Third-Party Tasks”

The SEC issued an order imposing sanctions against private equity adviser Rialto Capital Management, LLC (“Rialto”) for violations of the Advisors Act relating to expense allocation. The settlement addressed Rialto’s allocation of expenses for certain “third-party tasks” performed by in-house employees, which was allowed under the relevant fund documents with consent of the limited partner … Continue Reading

SEC Cracks Down on Retirement Fund Advisers’ Undisclosed Compensation and Conflicts

In August 2020, the SEC issued two orders against VALIC Financial Advisors Inc. (VFA) related to VFA’s management of 403(b) and 457(b) plans. These matters arise out of two of the SEC’s enforcement initiatives, the Teachers and Military Service Members’ Initiative and the Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative. VFA is a registered investment adviser and … Continue Reading

SEC Releases Risk Alert Identifying Common Private Equity and Hedge Fund Compliance Deficiencies

On June 23rd, the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations issued a new risk alert entitled “Observations from Examinations of Investment Advisers Managing Private Funds.” As discussed in the client alert below, the report highlights many practices which have been the subject of SEC enforcement actions with … Continue Reading

Privacy in the Time of Pandemic: COVID-19 Provides Opportunity to Revisit Regulation S-P Privacy Policies

With more people working remotely than ever before in light of COVID-19, firms in the private equity and hedge fund space should review their Regulation S-P privacy and information-safeguarding policies to ensure they are compliant and ready for a prolonged period of remote work. In particular, in view of SEC guidance, firms should focus on … Continue Reading

Misuse of Private Fund Assets Leads to SEC Enforcement and Industry Bar for Fund Manager

In a cautionary tale about the career-limiting risks of SEC sanctions, a private fund adviser and its owner were found to have misused over $1 million of fund assets, resulting in a bar from the investment industry as well as a civil penalty. Monsoon Capital, LLC (Monsoon) is an SEC-registered investment adviser founded and owned … Continue Reading

Private Equity and Cybersecurity: Threats, Consequences, and the Regulatory Framework

Cybersecurity breaches and threats are pervasive concerns for any entity storing valuable data or managing large sums of money: private investment funds are no exception.  Recently three private equity firms suffered breaches that compromised their email accounts and wire transfers, resulting in $1.3 million in losses.  We have seen the SEC follow through on its … Continue Reading
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