Aegis Frumento, Esq. reminds us that the Roman Emperor Caligula ruled was killed after announcing that he would appoint his horse a Roman Senator. Why is Aegis writing about Ancient Rome? Who the hell knows. He's socially distancing. Telecommuting. Watching countless old episodes of "Law & Order" and desperately hoping that the jury acquits during this re-run. Like all of us, Aegis is going stir crazy. Regardless, as Aegis further notes, after Caligula's assassination, one hypocrite Consul bloviated, "Our first duty now is to give the highest possible honors to those who have killed the tyrant," all the while still wearing Caligula's loyalty ring. Aegis thinks that the unfaithful Consul would feel right at home in our own Senate.
It's a rare moment when I am reading through a Securities and Exchange Commission Opinion and I recognize it as earth-shattering, precedent setting, historic, and a turning the regulatory world on its head event. So . . . as I worked my way through the allegations, the arguments, the findings, and the rationale in Gregory Acosta's appeal of FINRA's deeming him to be statutorily disqualified, I came to the end of the SEC's Opinion and was stunned. I don't do stunned. Well, not a lot of it. Regardless, I was stunned. And in a good way. It's encouraging to see that the SEC doesn't merely go through the motions when adjudicating appeals from FINRA.
In 2016, the SEC sued Defendants Liu and Wang for their roles in an alleged EB-5 scheme whereby at least 50 Chinese investors were purportedly defrauded out of some $27 million. As the case made its way through the federal courts, the SEC prevailed via injunctive relief, civil penalties, and disgorgement. On appeal to the Supreme Court, the Defendants argued that the lower courts were not empowered to order disgorgement in the amount set. The Supreme Court attempted to determine whether court-ordered disgorgement is an impermissible "penalty" or a permitted form of "equitable relief."
For the roughly four-year period from March 21, 2016, until January 13, 2020, a FINRA Arbitration Decision sets out everything that happened in five sentences. When the matter winds up on appeal before a United States District Court, that same period prompted six paragraphs of explanation from the judge. Less may often be better. More may often be too much. In today's featured case, however, less is, indeed, less, and, more is indeed better. That being said, the lengthier explanation merely confirmed that the arbitrators were right. So, you know, it's all very Zen-like in terms of walking the circle and ending up where you started, and nothing made much difference except it did.