The U.S. Supreme Court safeguarded investor-protection laws on Wednesday by refusing to narrow the scope of that further could be held liable for fraud, upholding a lower court ruling against a New York investment banker banned from the business by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
That court agreed with the SEC’s findings which Francis Lorenzo was liable in a scheme to deceive investors by sending misleading emails about a financially troubled company even though he did not personally write the deceptive statements contained in the messages.
Matthew Thibaut, an attorney at Investment Loss Recovery Group, said “that in terms of protecting public investors, the case recognized that when emails are sent to potential investors that contain false statements or material inaccuracies (even if the person sending the email was not the original “maker” of the misstatement and was merely passing it along) the anti-fraud provisions of the U.S. Securities laws still apply, as they prohibit false statements and other conduct categorized as acts, devices, practices, or schemes intended to defraud investors.
Composing on behalf of the court, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said perpetrators of securities fraud could escape liability if the law were interpreted narrowly. “Congress intended to distribute all manner Of fraud in the securities industry. Plus it gave this commission the resources to accomplish that job,” Breyer wrote.
Conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh didn’t take part because he had been involved in the situation in his previous role as an appeals court judge in Washington.
Lorenzo, who served as the investment banking manager at a broker-dealer named Charles Vista, sent the emails in 2009 seeking investors to get a startup company’s debt that though its energy-from-waste technology did not function.
Anti-fraud provisions prohibit false statements and other behavior categorized as actions, devices, schemes or practices. The case hinged on whether a person who didn’t make fraudulent statements but merely passed them along can be found liable for participating in a deceptive scheme.
“Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b–5 makes it unlawful to (a) “employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud,” (b) “make any untrue statement of a material fact,” or (c) “engage in any act, prac-tice, or course of business” that “operates . . . as a fraud or deceit” in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.” (LORENZO v. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION)