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SEC Charges IR Professional with Regulation FD Violation

A former investor relations professional at First Solar agreed to pay $50,000 to settle the SEC’s charges that he violated Regulation FD.  According to the SEC order, the IR officer attended an investor conference on September 13, 2011 with the company’s then-CEO.  At that time, the CEO indicated publicly that the company would receive three loan guarantees of $4.5 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy, which would allow the company to obtain low-cost financing for key projects.  The guarantees were conditioned on the company’s meeting several requirements before the end of September, and analysts had been speculating about whether the company would be able to satisfy these requirements. 
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Looking Forward to September Governance Activities

The end of summer is being marked by expectations of a busy month. First, several rules come into effect. On September 9, swap clearing is required under the Dodd-Frank Act unless an exception is available. Public companies often use swaps to mitigate risks, such as interest rate or foreign currency fluctuations. A company would be eligible for an exception to the clearing and trade execution requirements if it is not a financial entity, uses the particular swap to hedge or mitigate commercial risk, and notifies the CFTC as to how it meets its financial obligations associated with entering into non-cleared swaps.
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SEC Makes Second Whistleblower Order with Staff Indicating More to Come

Three whistleblowers were awarded a total of 15% of the money that the SEC will ultimately collect from its enforcement action against Locust Offshore Management LLC and its CEO, according to an order issued by the SEC on June 12.  No immediate payments were forthcoming since the SEC has not yet collected on any of the $7.5 million judgment in disgorgement and penalties. The whistleblowers are entitled to seek a portion of the $800,000 Justice Department has managed to collect so far on a related action.

The award stems from a 2011 lawsuit against the hedge fund alleging fraud. Four claimants filed for whistleblower awards after a U.S.
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President Nominates 2 New SEC Commissioners

President Obama has named Kara Stein, Democrat, and Michael Piwowar, Republican as nominees for SEC Commissioners.  Both are currently Senate aides. 

Ms. Stein is currently legal counsel and senior policy advisor to Senator Jack Reed, who is a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, and would replace Commissioner Elisse Walter.  If confirmed, her term would expire in June 2017. 

Mr. Piwowar is an aide to Senator Mike Crapo and the Banking Committee’s Republican chief economist.  He is being nominated to replace Commissioner Troy Paredes with a term to expire in June 2018 if confirmed. 
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Two SEC Announcements Today – First Whistleblower Award and Deferral of Open Meeting Topic

A year after opening its new whistleblower office, the SEC announced today that it had paid out $50,000 to an unidentified whistleblower, the first such award under Dodd-Frank. In its press release, the SEC indicated that the award represents the maximum percentage allowed, or 30%, of the amount collected in an enforcement action. The whistleblower reportedly provided documents and other information that led to a court ordering more than $1 million in sanctions. Additional sanctions will increase the payout to the whistleblower. A second individual seeking an award for the same matter was denied since the information provided did not lead to or significantly contribute to the enforcement action. 
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