Experienced and Strategic Legal Representation for SEC Fraud Investigations in Mountain View, CA
As home to some of the world’s largest and most well-known public companies, Mountain View, CA is also a prime point of focus for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC maintains an active presence in Mountain View, both through its overarching regulatory authority and on the ground. Investigations focused on locally headquartered companies and their executives, board members, brokers, and advisors are common; and, while most of these investigations fly under the radar, some lead to significant negative publicity and liability exposure.
At Oberheiden P.C., we provide experienced and strategic legal representation for SEC fraud investigations in Mountain View, CA. Along with representing publicly traded companies, we also represent technology startups and other fledgling ventures. We represent broker-dealers and brokerage firms as well, and our track record includes helping many companies, firms, and individuals resolve SEC investigations without charges being filed.
Common Issues in SEC Fraud Investigations in Mountain View
While the SEC investigates companies, firms, and individuals for numerous types of securities fraud, investigations in Mountain View tend to focus on certain similar types of issues. Of course, this is not an absolute, and the SEC conducts investigations targeting all types of federal securities law violations as well as violations of the Commission’s Rules.
For targets of SEC investigations, three pieces of information are critical for assessing the risks involved and beginning to formulate a strategic defense. These are: (i) the trigger of the SEC’s investigation, (ii) the substantive focus of the SEC’s investigation, and (iii) the scope of the allegations at issue.
1. Common Triggers for SEC Investigations
SEC investigations can have several triggers. By determining what triggered an investigation, the target can not only begin to narrow down the likely issues involved, but also assess whether the investigation may present risks beyond the scope of the SEC’s enforcement jurisdiction.
For example, the SEC relies heavily on information received from whistleblowers, especially in priority enforcement areas such as Mountain View. When a whistleblower complaint triggers an investigation, this typically means that the investigation involves a company’s or firm’s internal practices and operations. So, allegations of disclosure violations and insider trading are two likely possibilities. Conversely, if the SEC is acting on information received from another federal agency such as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), then not only is the list of likely allegations much longer, but the investigation could very likely present enforcement risks beyond the realm of federal securities law as well.
As a result, when companies, firms, and individuals in Mountain View engage our team for SEC defense, one of our first priorities is to determine why our client is under investigation. While this is fairly straightforward in some cases, in others it is much more complicated. We examine all possibilities, including:
- Investor complaints
- Whistleblower complaints
- Watchdog complaints and media reports
- SEC market surveillance and public disclosure analysis
- Tips from the DOJ, FBI, and other state and federal authorities
2. Common Allegations in SEC Investigations
While identifying the trigger of an SEC investigation can help to clarify the scope of the target’s risk, this typically will not be sufficient on its own. Furthermore, while it may seem as though figuring out what it is investigating (and why) should be fairly straightforward, in practice this is rarely the case. During the investigative process, the SEC seeks to control as much information as possible, and this includes controlling how much the target knows about the investigation.
Even so, by examining the SEC’s investigative tactics, it will often be possible to discern the focus of the investigation. At Oberheiden P.C., our defense attorneys rely on centuries of combined experience in private practice and as former DOJ securities fraud prosecutors to understand what our clients need to defend against. In our experience, SEC investigations in Mountain View commonly target allegations such as:
- Corporate accounting and recordkeeping violations
- Securities registration violations
- Public disclosure violations
- Insider trading
- Market manipulation
These allegations (among others) can expose companies, firms, and individuals to substantial penalties under a variety of federal securities laws. This includes exposure to criminal penalties in some cases—as discussed in greater detail below. Once we know the substance of the allegations at issue, we can determine which statutes are at play, and then we can use this knowledge to fully assess our client’s risk and formulate a targeted defense strategy. Some of the federal securities laws most commonly implicated in SEC investigations in Mountain View include:
- Securities Act of 1933
- Securities Exchange Act of 1934
- Investment Company Act of 1940
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
- Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010
3. Determining the Scope of a Company’s, Firm’s, or Individual’s Risk
Understanding the scope of a company’s, firm’s, or individual’s risk in an SEC investigation also requires an understanding of the investigation’s scope. Is the SEC concerned with a specific disclosure violation, or is it reviewing the company’s entire filing history? Are investigators focused on a specific instance of alleged insider trading, or are they alleging a broad conspiracy to commit insider trading that implicates multiple individuals both within and outside of the company?
In terms of the scope of a company’s, firm’s, or individual’s risk, it is also imperative to understand the nature of the SEC’s investigation. Investigations into alleged securities law violations can be either administrative, civil, or criminal in nature. Each type of investigation carries very different risks; and, while all three types of investigations can lead to substantial penalties, targeted entities and individuals will typically want to try to avoid criminal prosecution whenever possible.
- Administrative Penalties – Administrative penalties can include cease-and-desist orders, injunctions, and bars from the securities industry or from providing services to publicly traded companies.
- Civil Penalties – Civil penalties typically include fines and restitution, though the SEC may seek the imposition of administrative-type penalties in civil enforcement cases as well.
- Criminal Penalties – Criminal penalties for securities law violations can include up to 20 years in prison for individuals along with multi-million-dollar fines for both individuals and corporate entities.
Defense Tactics and Strategies for High-Stakes SEC Investigations
But, while avoiding criminal prosecution should be a goal, it generally should not be the goal when facing an SEC investigation. In many cases, it will be possible to resolve an SEC investigation without any charges being filed. While this entails negotiating a settlement with the SEC in some cases, at Oberheiden P.C. we have also had significant success helping our clients avoid penalties entirely.
Favorably resolving an SEC investigation requires a tactical and strategic defense that is custom-tailored to the circumstances at hand. In some cases, avoiding liability may involve affirmatively demonstrating compliance to the SEC. In others, it may involve convincing the SEC that it simply doesn’t have the information it needs to move forward. In others still, it may involve taking a collaborative approach and working with the SEC to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome—although in these scenarios targets must be very careful to avoid unnecessarily disclosing information and to ensure that they receive the benefit of their bargain.
FAQs: Defending Against SEC Securities Fraud Allegations in Mountain View, CA
Q: What Should I Do if I Have Been Contacted By the SEC in Mountain View?
If you have been contacted by the SEC in mountain view, it is important that you engage experienced defense counsel promptly. SEC investigations can present significant risks, and targeted companies, firms, and individuals must handle their responses appropriately in order to avoid unnecessary risks.
Q: Do I Need to Be Concerned About an SEC Investigation?
SEC investigations present substantial risks for the companies, firms, and individuals targeted in these inquiries. Along with the potential for substantial fines, SEC investigations can also lead to administrative enforcement action and the potential for criminal prosecution.
Q: Can SEC Investigations Lead to Personal Liability for Company Owners, Executives, and Directors?
Yes, SEC investigations can lead to personal liability for company owners, executives, and directors. The SEC regularly pursues charges against individuals for insider trading, market manipulation, and other securities law violations.
Q: How Should I Handle an SEC Investigation?
If your company or firm is facing an SEC investigation in Mountain View, your first step should be to engage experienced defense counsel. Your company’s or firm’s defense counsel should then make contact with the SEC immediately, advise you regarding your company’s or firm’s next steps, and work quickly to execute a strategic defense.
Q: Does Oberheiden P.C. Handle SEC Investigations in Mountain View?
Yes, our firm handles SEC investigations in Mountain View. With a team that includes former federal securities fraud prosecutors, we are trusted defense counsel for companies, firms, and individuals nationwide. If you need defense counsel to avoid (or overcome) allegations of securities fraud, we encourage you to contact us immediately to arrange a complimentary initial consultation.
Contact Us for a Complimentary Consultation Today
To arrange a complimentary initial consultation with a senior SEC fraud defense attorney at Oberheiden P.C., please call 866-603-4540 or contact us online. We will arrange for you to speak with an attorney in confidence as soon as possible.