Blog by Bill Singer WEEK IN REVIEW

February 13, 2016

On January 21, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of the Inspector General sent a Memorandum to SEC Chair Mary Jo White, and a 26-page Transmittal of Report of Investigation: Case No. 14-ALJ-0482-1 was attached. The materials indicate that the investigation was initiated on June 30, 2015 and ended on January 21, 2016. Having completed this high-profile inquiry into allegations of bias within the SEC's Administrative Law Judge system, the OIG asserts that it "did not develop any evidence to support the allegations of improper influence"

Given the nature of the allegations that prompted this investigation and the implicit threat to the continuation of the ALJ system (and, hence, an implicit threat to the continued employment of ALJs and support staff), Blog publisher Bill Singer found it difficult to understand why an impartial, outside staff was not called upon to replace the SEC's OIG or, at the least, to supplement that investigative team. In light of that, Singer, a veteran industry attorney who practices regulatory law, found no purpose served in further comment on the Report and reprinted the document on the website so that all serious investors and market professionals could draw their own conclusions. READ

There is no question about it, Bill Singer, the publisher of the Blog, is not a fan of most securities-industry regulatory organizations. As such, it is quite an accolade when Bill singles out for a rare moment of praise the Texas State Securities Board for its publication of its 2016 edition of the "Texas Investor Guide: Strategies for Investing Wisely and Avoiding Financial Fraud," which is a wonderful primer on factors to consider when investing. READ

On February 11, 2016, the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ") published a Press Release: "Morgan Stanley Agrees to Pay $2.6 Billion Penalty in Connection with Its Sale of Residential Mortgage Backed Securities" READ the NYAG and DOJ Settlements. 

US Bancorp Investments Employment Dispute Ends With Mixed Result

In marriage and employment, the honeymoon may be short and the relationship ends in an acrimonious and bitter divorce. In one of the great quirks of law, the divorce proceedings often last as long or longer than the marriage. Following about a one-year employment relationship, a former U.S. Bancorp Investments employee sued the firm and, thereafter, it took about a year for the arbitration proceedings to end with a decision. The odd thing about the outcome of the case, both parties sort of won and both parties sort of loss. Sounds a lot like the post-game analysis by many divorced couples, no? READ

This is an UPDATE of "Pro Se Respondent Battles SEC to Standstill" ( Blog, January 20, 2016). Today's Blog considers a fascinating Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory case that began with a State of New Hampshire Consent Order, which barred an individual respondent. Frankly, that should have been the end of this legal saga because the normal, typical, garden-variety follow-up is for the SEC to tack on a federal Bar.  The thing is, however, that the Blog seeks out the oddball and the quirky. Welcome to another sampling from that menu. READ

The Houston Terrorist And The Order On Ineptitude

On January 6, 2016, the United States Department of Justice filed a three-count Indictment Under Seal against Defendant Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas ("SDTX"). Defendant Al Hardan, 24, who had entered the United States of America as a refugee and was granted Legal Permanent Residence is charged with:

Count I: Attempting to provide Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization;

Count II: Procurement of Citizenship or Naturalization Unlawfully; and

Count III: False Statement or Representation Made to an Agency of the United States.

Specifically, Al Hardan is charged with having attempted to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ("ISIL"). Press reports assert that Al Hardan had been arrested in connection with his attempts to build and set off bombs at two Houston, TX malls.

How could any of the above become comical? How could any of the above become the grist for a mill of absurdity? No . . . you're not going to find anything here amusing but you may well be outraged. READ

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There's not much point watching the stock market this morning because it's headed for the sewer. Speaking of headed for the sewer, don't you love that classic film "Shawshank Redemption"? Imagine if Andy Dufresne wasn't in prison for murder but for wire fraud. And then imagine that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Prisons had walk-on roles. And then imagine that instead of Andy getting a rock hammer he got a CD. No, not a Certificate of Deposit but a Compact Disc. And then imagine that Peter Griffin of the "Family Guy" was cast in the role of Andy Dufresne.  READ