Alison Frankel

The audacious theory in Elan investors’ insider trading suit vs. SAC

By Alison Frankel
August 15, 2014

Everyone knows that the hedge fund SAC Capital, now known as Point72, made a bundle when it ditched shares of the pharmaceutical companies Wyeth and Elan based on inside information that their jointly developed Alzheimer’s drug, bapineuzumab (better known as bapi), was a bust. SAC supposedly realized $555 million in profits and avoided losses because trader Mathew Martoma got early word about disappointing bapi test results from a doctor involved in the clinical trials. Both SAC and Martoma have, of course, been held to account for the trades: Martoma was convicted at trial and SAC pled guilty. In all, the hedge fund has forked over nearly $2 billion to the government because it illegally traded on inside information about the bapi trials.

Arab Bank terror trial claim: ‘It wasn’t routine banking’

By Alison Frankel
August 14, 2014

According to Arab Bank, the world’s primary defense against terrorist financing is computer software. As Arab Bank lawyer Shand Stephens of DLA Piper told a Brooklyn federal jury Thursday morning, banks run programs that instantaneously monitor transactions to make sure money transfers don’t involve people and organizations on international terrorist lists. “It is the government who decides who should be designated as a criminal and put on the lists,” Stephens said during opening statements in the much anticipated trial of civil terror financing claims against the Jordan-based bank. “That is the way banking works.”

Climate scientist faces broad array of foes in suit vs. National Review

By Alison Frankel
August 13, 2014

Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann sounds like a pretty sympathetic character in the brief his lawyers filed last April at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Mann, who is widely credited with developing groundbreaking evidence of global warming, asked the appeals court to reject ongoing efforts by National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to dismiss his libel and defamation case under the District of Columbia’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) law.

Can E&Y escape from Lehman Repo 105 litigation for less than $120 mln?

By Alison Frankel
August 12, 2014

The big revelation in Anton Valukas‘s report on Lehman Brothers’ failure in March 2010 was the bank’s use of an accounting trick called Repo 105, in which Lehman used the cash it received from short-term sales of highly liquid securities to pay down its liabilities. Valukas’s examiner’s report said Lehman was apparently using Repo 105 transactions at the end of every quarter to make it seem as though the bank was less leveraged than it actually was. He advised that the Lehman estate had, at least, a “colorable claim” against Lehman’s auditor, Ernst & Young.

Israel’s conflicted role in Bank of China terror finance case

By Alison Frankel
August 11, 2014

Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin of Manhattan refused to reconsider her previous decision to block American terror victims suing the Bank of China from deposing a former Israeli counterterrorism agent. The former operative, Uzi Shaya, was expected to testify that Israel counterterrorism experts met with Chinese government officials in April 2005 to warn them that Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad were using Bank of China accounts to launder money and finance attacks on civilians in Israel. Bank of China has denied any knowledge of those supposed warnings, and without a live witness to confirm what happened at the 2005 meetings, victims of the attacks will have a much tougher time proving their case against the Chinese bank.

Arab Bank terror finance trial: How much screening must banks do?

By Alison Frankel
August 8, 2014

Osama Hamdan, the Hamas spokesman who recently refused to retract his claims that Jews kill Christians to bake their blood into matzoh, was an account holder at Arab Bank from 1998 to 2005. His account number was listed on a website associated with Hamas, which the U.S. Treasury Department first designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, and several transfers processed through Hamdan’s account listed Hamas as a beneficiary. During his last two years as an Arab Bank account holder, Hamdan himself was a “specially designated global terrorist,” according to the Treasury Department, which added him and several other Hamas leaders to the rolls in 2003.

In new Pershing Square filings, Ackman takes Allergan’s dare

By Alison Frankel
August 7, 2014

If Allergan’s insider trading and disclosure suit against the hostile bidders Valeant and Pershing Square is a bluff, Pershing just called it.

In Sherlock case, 7th Circuit spurs war on copyright ‘extortionists’

By Alison Frankel
August 5, 2014

Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has confessed to reading the occasional legal thriller, but he’s no fan of the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, the author who created the indelible detective Sherlock Holmes.

Why did Allergan change its mind about Ackman and insider trading?

By Alison Frankel
August 4, 2014

A few days after the Canadian pharmaceutical company Valeant announced that it had teamed up with the activist investor William Ackman to bid for Botox maker Allergan, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz wrote a teeth-gnashing client alert about the new threat to corporate targets from the unholy alliance of a strategic bidder with an activist hedge fund. Commentators were already raising questions about whether Ackman and Valeant had engaged in insider trading, because Ackman secretly accumulated Allergan shares based on his knowledge of Valeant’s imminent takeover bid. But in that early memo, Wachtell didn’t claim Valeant and Ackman had broken insider trading rules. Instead, the firm bemoaned Valeant and Ackman’s “conspicuously structured” stratagem that “took express pains to sidestep” the Williams Act’s bar on trading in advance of a tender offer.

Shareholders can use whistleblower documents in fraud complaint: judge

By Alison Frankel
August 1, 2014

Here’s a new twist on an old story. A securities class action firm in the early stages of a fraud case tracks down a former employee of the defendant. The former employee dishes dirt about the company to an investigator, a boon for plaintiffs’ lawyers who have to draft a detailed complaint about corporate wrongdoing without the benefit of discovery from the defendant. The company protests, asserting that former employee was under a confidentiality agreement.