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Proskauer on Private Equity Litigation

Category Archives: Disputes

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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 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

Rent the Runway Walks into the Litigation Spotlight

There’s a new unicorn in town, and this time, it isn’t just another tech company. Rent the Runway, also known as RTR, is now officially valued at over $1 billion after its most recent funding round which raised $125 million. The high-end rental clothing brand was launched in 2009 by female founders, including co-founder and CEO Jennifer … 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

Delaware Chancery Declines Post-Filing Use of Section 220 Books and Records Inspection Request

A recent decision by the Delaware Chancery Court suggests that a litigant might forego the ability to file a books and records request if it waits to do so until after the lawsuit is filed. Last month the Delaware Chancery Court dismissed just such an action, characterizing the request for a books and records inspection … 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

2018 Annual Review and 2019 Outlook Highlights Private Equity Fund Litigation Risk Areas

In our recently released 2018 Annual Review and 2019 Outlook for Hedge Funds, Private Equity Funds and Other Private Funds, we note that innovative market disruptors, a maturing credit cycle, and a philosophical change in how the industry views and utilizes litigation are likely to lead to increased litigation risk for advisers (and their funds) … 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 Settles with Private Equity Fund Adviser over Alleged Conflicts of Interest

As a sign that the SEC is continuing to actively pursue private equity fund advisers, on April 24, 2018, the SEC announced a settlement with private equity fund adviser WCAS Management Corporation (WCAS) related to allegations of undisclosed conflicts of interest. The specific conflicts resulted from an allegedly undisclosed contractual arrangement whereby a portion of … Continue Reading

Proskauer Adds Former SEC Enforcement Counsel, Samuel Waldon, As Partner Strengthening Its Securities Litigation Offering

We are pleased to announce that partner Samuel Waldon has joined Proskauer’s Litigation Department in DC, enhancing the Firm’s securities litigation and regulatory enforcement practices.  Among his other areas of focus, Sam will bolster the firm’s Asset Management Litigation team. “In today’s ever evolving regulatory landscape, Sam’s extensive experience at the SEC and his deep … 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

Veil-Piercing Under California Law – Heightened Risks for Fund Managers

We recently posted about the risks associated with veil-piercing claims and the ways in which fund managers can protect themselves from exposure to these claims. Our first post on veil-piercing focused on Delaware standards, while this post discusses California law. California law differs in several important respects from Delaware law on this topic. If a … Continue Reading

Veil Piercing/Alter Ego Determinations – How Fund Managers Can Protect Themselves

A veil piercing claim can be a worst-case scenario for a private fund manager dealing with a struggling portfolio company investment – the company fails, and ensuing legal claims are brought not only against the portfolio company, but also against the fund and its GPs. How can fund managers manage that risk? Limited liability is … Continue Reading

Snap Judgment: Unicorns Under Pressure and Addressing Risks of Private Lawsuits

The recent IPOs of Snap, Inc. and Blue Apron indicate that while the IPO pipeline continues to flow, there may be a cautionary tale for “unicorns” – venture-backed companies with estimated valuations in excess of $1 billion. After Snap went public in March, it posted a $2.2 billion loss in its first quarter, yielding a … Continue Reading

Valuation of Illiquid Portfolio Investments – Avoiding Regulatory Risks with Form and Substance

For private fund managers, the valuation of privately-held securities has been subject to heightened regulatory scrutiny. As the IPO on-ramp for private “unicorn” investments has lengthened, fund managers may hold illiquid investments for longer-than-expected time periods—and valuation-related risks increase as the time lengthens between purchase and exit.  This is the second of two blog posts … Continue Reading

Reported Criminal Probes Regarding Bond Valuations Highlight the Importance of Valuation Procedures

According to recent news reports, the DOJ and the SEC are investigating the possible improper use of third-party broker quotes by hedge fund managers to value illiquid debt securities in their portfolios. Prosecutors are reportedly focused on possible instances where fund managers allegedly solicited predetermined or improper quotes from brokers, and used those estimates to … Continue Reading

SEC Speaks: 2017 Enforcement and Exam Trends for Private Funds

At the recent SEC Speaks program, sponsored by PLI, senior SEC staff members provided valuable insight into the SEC’s 2017 priorities for private funds.  While the tenor of this year’s discussion seemed to focus more on retail investors, the staff discussed several topics that private fund advisers should keep in mind from both an enforcement … Continue Reading

The Top Ten Regulatory and Litigation Risks for Private Funds in 2017

Private investment funds and advisers are likely to face new regulatory challenges and increased litigation risks in 2017, not only because of a change in the administration, but also because many advisers have not corrected and aligned past practices with current regulatory guidance.  In this post, we have highlighted ten areas that should be on … Continue Reading

Outgoing SEC Chair Reflects on the Agency’s Enforcement Program and Advocates for Increased Authority

On November 18, 2016, outgoing SEC Chair Mary Jo White delivered a speech at New York University School of Law entitled “A New Model for SEC Enforcement: Producing Bold and Unrelenting Results.”  Chair White’s remarks covered a broad range of enforcement initiatives and outcomes from her tenure as SEC Chair.  This post summarizes the aspects … Continue Reading

SEC Shake-Up: President-Elect Trump Expected to Make Key Appointments

In the wake of the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, Mary Jo White has announced her intent to step down from her role as Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Chair White, the 31st and one of the longest-serving Chairs of the SEC, will be leaving her … Continue Reading

Whistleblower Alert – OCIE to Examine Registered Investment Advisers for Overbroad Confidentiality or Severance Agreements

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) recently published a risk alert noting that the SEC exam staff intends to examine registrants’ compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower provisions.  OCIE intends to examine registered advisers for compliance, in light of recent enforcement cases the SEC has filed based on violations of the Dodd-Frank … Continue Reading
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