Scheme Liability

The December 19 edition of the New York Law Journal has a special section (regist. req’d) on securities litigation and regulation. The special section includes articles on scheme liability, scienter and summary judgment, the demand requirement in derivative cases, and the use of asset protection devices in SEC enforcement cases.

The lead article on scheme liability under subsections (a) and (c) of Rule 10b-5 is of particular interest. The article discusses the district court split over whether secondary actors who did not prepare or substantially participate in preparing corporate financial misstatements can still be held liable for them as scheme participants. The issue currently is before the First and Ninth Circuits.

Quote of note: “Recently, plaintiffs have aggressively pursued scheme theories of liability against secondary actors under subsection (a) and/or (c) in cases involving major accounting scandals such as Homestore, Lernout & Hauspie, Parmalat, and Enron. In those cases, plaintiffs allege that secondary actor defendants – who did not make the misleading financial statements and disclosures – are liable under subsections (a) and/or (c) for knowingly or recklessly participating in “schemes” with insiders that allowed the companies to misstate their financial condition. A threshold question presented in these cases is whether a secondary actor who participates in a scheme to generate false financial results, but does not itself participate in generating the company’s financial statements, can be held liable under Rule 10b-5.”

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