In an unprecedented series of decisions, and after a two year investigation and a multitude of written and oral arguments, the NJ State Ethics Commission dismissed, in its entirety, allegations against six owners of a closely held company whose owners also served as NJ State employees
The issue presented was whether the ownership and employment by the company was in direct violation of and conflict with its state employment duties and responsibilities. Through aggressive advocacy and a series of legal challenges, White Collar Department Chairman, Michael Weinstein was able to convince the Commission from instituting further, more severe legal action, and moreover, raised procedural and legal obstacles causing the Commission to dismiss the matters entirely. It is highly unusual for the Commission to dismiss matters outright as allegations traditionally are initiated based upon well-grounded investigations with the involvement of whistleblowers, and substantial documentation. The risk to the clients ranged from suspension or termination of state employment to more severe administrative hearings, sanctions and claw back of improperly obtained payments over an eight year period.
Cole Schotz was recently retained by a winery, and wholesale wine producer and distributer to assist company in evaluating potential claims against owners and principals who were alleged to have used stolen funds, exceeding multi-million dollars, to initially purchase the company. Our team assisted in an internal investigation that reviewed the company options and sufficiency of assets and personnel involved with suspected unlawful activity. We then served as corporate counsel in the ultimate sale of the company to a third party during which multiple corporate disclosures and interface with government agencies were necessary. The firm coordinated and assisted Court appointed receiver in facilitating smooth operational control and transfer of clean title once principal owners were stripped of ownership and fled jurisdiction.
Our Private Equity clients were sued by investors for fraudulent transfer, breach of contract, fraud, and civil conspiracy. The firm evaluated, counseled and ultimately litigated various options resulting from the allegations. Our clients invested in a biotech company which obtained artificial intelligence patents. The principals of the biotech company embezzled money and defrauded investors through a multi-year scheme all the while enriching themselves. Certain notes secured by the patents were the basis of the fraud and false representations. Investors sought monies to recoup investment losses.
Our client’s former head of finance instituted a multiyear scheme to manipulate, alter, destroy company records and electronic data in order to embezzle company assets, hide his actions and use company funds for lavish lifestyle. Cole Schotz conducted an internal investigation to determine the scope and breadth of the scheme, evaluate any civil causes of action, refer to criminal investigators, interact with company board, pursue related insurance claims and draft new policy and personnel changes resulting from the theft. Cole Schotz acted as counsel for the plaintiff and successfully convinced the defendant to dismiss, with prejudice, a three count counterclaim and shortly thereafter obtained a multi-million dollar judgement against the defendant in the New York Supreme Court relating to the defendant’s theft of the plaintiff’s assets.
Cole Schotz also assisted the company in providing Federal law enforcement evidence and electronic and financial data showing extensive multiyear fraud conducted by former head financial executive resulting in multimillion dollar loss to company. Federal criminal charges were then initiated, resulting in a guilty plea by executive who has received a significant jail sentence. Cole Schotz also prepared report for company and board outlining the facts and law related to the matter and assisted company executives with procedural changes necessary to prevent such actions in the future.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued our high-net worth client and several other foreign traders for insider trading and possible collusion in U.S. securities manipulation. The SEC had limited evidence that any of the defendants were in possession of actual material inside information. Rather, the SEC alleged that these defendants had engaged in suspicious trading patterns of contracts for difference (CFDs – used by foreign traders so that they do not actually need to own U.S. stock) around the time that the underlying corporation made major announcements. The SEC relied upon the fact that the same group of defendants had made similar successful trades around the time of major announcements for other corporations. The District Court of New Jersey recently granted our motion to dismiss and the SEC abandoned the matter. The Court ruled that the defendants’ trades in relating to corporations other than the one whose CFDs were at issue in the suit were not indicative of insider trading with respect to the CFDs at issue in the lawsuit.