A New York state judge dismissed a class action against BNY Mellon on Tuesday, saying the plaintiffs had failed to prove the investment bank showed gross negligence in ignoring key warning signs in Bernard Madoff’s notorious $65 billion Ponzi scheme that caused investors massive losses. New York Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman granted BNY Mellon’s motion to toss the case, saying lead plaintiffs Entwistle & Cappucci LLP, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Bernstein Liebhard LLP — all of which represented Madoff investors known as the Rye Funds — had not accused the bank of any extraordinary negligence or misconduct, which would be required in order to pursue damages. “It does not allege that defendants breached, let alone recklessly disregarded, any contractual duty. … The law also does not impose any additional tort duty, or duty independent of contract, to exercise reasonable care,” the decision said. More on Law360 here.
A group of investors burned by Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme were given a green light Monday to add state-law claims to their class action in New York federal court, marking one of the first applications of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that clarified when such suits aren’t barred under the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act. U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa also raised the possibility that accounting firm KPMG LLP could be reinstated as a defendant in the longstanding suit against Tremont Group Holdings Inc. The investors’ suit, which is part of a multidistrict litigation by alleged Ponzi scheme victims, accuses the Rye, N.Y., hedge fund of misrepresenting how and to what extent it was placing investor funds into Madoff’s hands. The bulk of Judge Griesa’s 10-page opinion was keyed off of the Supreme Court’s February ruling in Chadbourne & Parke LLP v. Troice, which exposed law firms to claims made by victims of convicted Ponzi schemer R. Allan Stanford. More on Law360 here.
Securities regulators are expected to unveil plans to step up checks on stockbrokers’ records, after investigations by The Wall Street Journal revealed flaws in the information available to investors. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a Wall Street watchdog, is set to propose rule changes on Wednesday that would require brokerage firms for the first time to do formal background checks on new employees, including brokers hired from other firms, according to a person familiar with the proposals. More in the Wall Street Journal here.
One of five people found guilty last month of aiding Bernard Madoff’s $17.5 billion Ponzi scheme asked the judge in the case for an acquittal or a new trial, citing a lack of evidence and flawed jury deliberations. The jury, which deliberated for a total of about three days after a trial that lasted more than five months, wasn’t thorough or objective, and was swayed by a prosecutor’s “inflammatory and improper remarks” during questioning of witnesses, Jerome O’Hara, 51, a former computer programmer for Madoff’s securities firm, said in a filing today in Manhattan federal court. More on Bloomberg BusinessWeek here.
Victims of a $7 billion Ponzi scheme failed to show that federal regulators dropped the ball in not catching R. Allen Stanford earlier, the 5th Circuit ruled. Investors in the Stanford International Bank Ltd. sued the Securities and Exchange Commission two years ago in Baton Rouge, La., under the Federal Tort Claims Act. More on Court House News Service here.
The New York Post’s John Aidan Byrne reports the SEC is planning a sweeping campaign against high-frequency traders in the wake of revelations about the extent of their impact published in Michael Lewis’ book “Flash Boys.” Byrne says a series of new regulations and enforcement actions by the agency will amount to a “purge” of the sector, competition against which “Flash Boys” protagonist Brad Katsuyama described as like “getting screwed, but [I] couldn’t figure out who was screwing me.” “You’ll probably see the commission coalesce around those enforcement cases and then bring new rules on high-frequency trading,” a source with knowledge of the SEC’s thinking told the Post. “There’s a lot of pressure on the SEC to act.” More on Business Insider here.
Call it the question that won’t go away. Is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. pursuing a campaign, either directly or indirectly, to become the self-regulatory organization for registered investment advisers? Nearly two years ago, Finra made a strong effort on Capitol Hill to promote legislation that would shift regulation of investment advisers to a self-regulatory organization from the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was no secret that Finra wanted to become that SRO. More in Investment News here.
Finra is tackling one of its most complex and wide-ranging oversight areas — regulations surrounding broker communications with customers — as it launches a review of existing rules to see if they are cost-effective and keeping pace with the markets. On Tuesday, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. said it would assess the communications rules as well as those that govern gifts, gratuities and non-cash payments to brokers. More in Investment News here.
This brings the total number of co-sponsors to date to 45. (Click here for a list of current co-sponsors).
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A U.S. Senate panel on Tuesday approved Timothy Massad as the next chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, but a second nominee to the derivatives watchdog hit a snag. Massad, a lawyer who oversaw the U.S. government’s $700 billion bank bailout program, was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Gary Gensler. He has spent most of his career at Wall Street law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, working on a wide variety of corporate transaction. More on Reuters here.