Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: Whistleblower Protection, Insider Trading, Pyramid Scheme

11/05/2019

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SEC Charges Issuer and CEO with Violating Whistleblower Protection Laws to Silence Investor Complaints

The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed an amended complaint against online auction portal Collectors Café and its CEO Mykalai Kontilai to add allegations that they unlawfully sought to prohibit their investors from reporting misconduct to the SEC and other governmental agencies. The SEC previously charged Collectors Café and Kontilai with a fraudulent $23 million securities offering based on false statements to investors, and alleged that Kontilai misappropriated over $6 million of investor proceeds.

The SEC's amended complaint alleges that Collectors Café and Kontilai attempted to resolve investor allegations of wrongdoing by conditioning the return of investor money on the investors signing agreements prohibiting them from reporting potential securities law violations to law enforcement, including the SEC. According to the complaint, these agreements violate the SEC's whistleblower protection rules. read more »

Mystery Swiss Trader May Link Insider Groups on Two Continents

A mysterious Swiss trader may provide a link between U.S. insider-trading indictments unsealed last month and seemingly unrelated investigations in the U.K. and France.

While the cases in New York targeted a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker, a Greek restaurateur and a poker-playing securities trader, among others, several indictments mention an unnamed Swiss trader. They use different code names, and it’s not clear whether the references are to the same individual, but the trader is described in similar terms. read more »

The Missing Cryptoqueen: the hunt for a multi-billion-dollar scam artist

Why did normally sensible people invest all their money in a bogus currency with a cult-like recruitment program?

Georgia Catt remembers the first time she heard the name One Coin. A friend had just gone all in on a Bitcoin-style cryptocurrency that seemed to be booming. They had poured in €70,000. “They were absolutely invested, saying it was going to be the next big thing,” she recalls.

To Catt, a BBC radio producer, the promise of vast returns on something virtually no one had heard of seemed too good to be true. She started researching One Coin, and ended up unearthing what she describes as the “perfect scam”: a multi-billion dollar con that combined a bogus currency with a cult–like recruitment program that fed into a pyramid scheme. read more »

The Government Protects Our Food and Cars. Why Not Our Data?

The United States is virtually the only developed nation without a comprehensive consumer data protection law and an independent agency to enforce it.

In the United States, most products are regulated by federal agencies that develop safety standards and enforce fair business practice laws. It’s a consumer protection system that dates back to the 1880s, when Congress established regulatory agencies to crack down on abusive giants like the railroad companies.

Today, the Food and Drug Administration vets new prescription drugs before they go on sale. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigates automobile safety hazards and sets fuel economy standards. And the Securities and Exchange Commission protects investors from fraud in stock sales.

By contrast, Americans have almost no safeguards for apps, in part because Congress has never established an agency to police Facebook, Instagram, Uber, YouTube and other online services that use sophisticated data-mining tools to surveil, sort and steer people on a massive scale. read more »