Protecting Your Rights Through the SEC Whistleblower Program

If you know of a company or corporation that is in violation of federal security laws, you have a chance to collect between 10 and 30 percent of the total fines if you give information to the government that leads to legal action. Many people are interested in collecting the reward but have a range of questions they would like for someone to answer.

Moving forward and reporting a company for violating these laws can feel intimidating, especially if you fear retaliation. Learning as much as you can about the SEC whistleblower system and how it can protect you is smart. It lets you move forward with confidence and know what to expect along the way.

SEC Whistleblower Explained

Learning about the SEC whistleblower program is a good place to start when your goal is to decide what path makes sense for you. The information in this section paints a clear picture, and you will have no trouble deciding what to do. Implemented by Congress, the whistleblower system exists to reward those who report violations of federal security laws.

The system also defines who is eligible to collect compensation and what the information must contain before the whistleblower can receive payment. Under the SEC whistleblower program, regulations list the legal penalties an employer can face for trying to discourage someone from reporting violations. The system has stipulations in place that highlight the penalties an employer can face for retaliating against an employee for giving information to the government.

Whistleblower Eligibility

At this point, you are likely wondering who qualifies as a whistleblower under the SEC. Reviewing this guide helps you understand when you qualify and when you can expect compensation for your report. What you are about to learn also helps you decide what you should do to increase your odds of filing a successful report. As long as you supply the SEC with relevant information about a violation, you are a whistleblower.

Before you can get paid, the information you provide must lead to legal action against the company that committed the violation. Some people think any relevant tip about a violation can earn them a part of the reward, but that is not the case. The information you offer must be new, meaning you have to tell the SEC something they did not already know. If you work for a company and know about security violations, taking action could be the best choice you ever make.

Reportable Actions

If you are like other people, you are curious about the types of violations that qualify under the SEC whistleblower program. Reviewing the types of fraud covered by the system is a great way to learn what path you should take, preventing you from wasting time on issues that are unlikely to generate attention. Also, you could discover that actions you would have otherwise overlooked fall within the definition.

The SEC welcomes reports about Ponzi and pyramid schemes, and you are free to report the theft of securities. If a company manipulates the price of a security or engages in insider trading, the people in charge of the SEC would like to know about it. Companies that release misleading information about their securities are also a target of the SEC. You can report anyone who tries bribing foreign officials in an attempt to alter the value of securities.

Rewards and Compensation

If you have submitted information that led to action by the SEC, you need to know how to collect your reward. You would otherwise lose your shot at collecting the money to which you are entitled, and you don’t want to face that problem. You must fill out the application form and mail it to the office of the whistleblower to get your money. Some people try rushing through the process to finish it as quickly as possible.

If you don’t want to lose your opportunity to collect a reward, don’t make that mistake. Take your time and ensure you complete each part of the form the right way. As long as you take your time and review the report before submitting it, you will have nothing about which to worry.

Protection From Retaliation

Employees will often want to report a violation but refuse because they fear retaliation. They are worried that the company for which they work will fire, demote or harass them for coming forward, which is a valid concern. But you should know that the SEC whistleblower system has put protective measures in place to safeguard you from that issue.

You can take legal action and seek damages if your employer retaliates against you for reporting information to the SEC. In addition to preventing retaliation, the SEC also stops employers from discouraging staff members from filing complaints. If you believe the company for which you work is trying to stop you from reporting a violation, you can contact the Department of Labor for more information.

Collecting Evidence of Retaliation

You need to know what steps you should take after filing a report if you would like to avoid retaliation. Proving retaliation is not always easy, but you can do it if you use a proven process and maintain your composure. Check the laws in your state to see if you are allowed to record audio at work or over the phone without informing the other person.

If you are, you can use audio recordings as evidence of retaliation. Make a note of the dates and times of any retaliation as well as any witnesses who were present at the time. You can even hire a private investigator to review your case and help you collect the evidence you need to protect your rights. A skilled investigator will gather information from out of sight and do what it takes to reveal the truth, and you will increase your chance of success.

Why the Government Started the Whistleblower System

You are probably asking why the government implemented the SEC whistleblower system in the first place. The aim is to ensure fair trading practices and to let investors know what they are buying before they move forward. Fraud related to securities can devastate corporations and impact the economy in ways most people don’t suspect.

As a result of the possible fallout, preventing security fraud benefits the public and maintains a balanced economy, creating a win-win situation. The SEC whistleblower program protects those who report fraud from retaliation, allowing them to come forward with peace of mind.

The Benefits of Remaining Anonymous

Remaining anonymous gives those who report fraud a range of fantastic benefits. Even though the law prohibits employers from retaliating against those who report crimes to the SEC, avoiding negative fallout is often the most desirable path.

Remaining anonymous gives you the chance to do the right thing and collect your reward without anyone knowing what you did. If you would like to file an anonymous report, you must do so with the help of an attorney. Your attorney will submit the report and pass your reward on to you, and the SEC won’t even know who you are.

Confidentiality Agreement Exceptions

If you report fraud or a related offense to your company’s human resource department, they might ask you to sign a confidentiality agreement. Some companies even require employees to sign such agreements at the start of their employment, and management will claim the agreement stops employees from reporting SEC violations.

Luckily, confidentiality agreements that try stopping employees from contacting the SEC are not valid, and those who have signed them can still come forward with information. You can call the SEC for more details if you have signed such an agreement and want more information on how to proceed.

No legal contract can stop you from bringing fraud to the attention of the government, so you can still follow steps to claim your reward as long as you have relevant details. This exception exists to prevent companies from taking advantage of confidentiality agreements as a way to hide illegal actions from the government.

The Importance of Working with an Experienced Lawyer

You might think moving forward on your own is enough to get the outcome you want, but that is not always the wise choice. Having an attorney on your side is the best bet when you want to improve your odds of success and protect yourself from retaliation.

Your advocate can give you SEC tips and show you what steps are right for your goals and current situation. The legal expert you hire will protect your rights and keep your interests in mind from start to finish, and you will be pleased with your decision. You and your legal advisor can work together to find the best way to reach your desired outcome.

Final Thoughts

The government implemented the SEC whistleblower program to give employees the chance to report fraud and other financial crimes without fear of retaliation. Those who provide accurate information that leads to action by the SEC can get up to 30 percent of the damages recovered.

Although the government provides information and offers protection, those who want to enjoy the best results must speak with a qualified legal representative before moving forward. If you have facts about a crime you would like to report, reach out to a caring legal expert the first chance you get, and you will be happy with the outcome.

Trump And China Agree To A Trade Ceasefire

Trump didn’t hold a press conference at the G20 Summit on Saturday out of respect for the passing of George H. W. Bush. But the news that Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping decided to give each other a little trade slack did hit the press on Sunday morning. Mr. Trump said he wouldn’t impose a 25 percent tariff on the remaining $200 billion in Chinese exports that currently have a 10 percent tariff status. And the Chinese president said China would buy more from the United States to reduce the gap in trade.

The trade ceasefire will help shaky financial markets be a little less shaky, according to the New York Times. But even though Trump calls the truce a win, it’s more like a pause in the battle. Trump didn’t hold a press conference at the G20 Summit on Saturday out of respect for the passing of George H. W. Bush. But the news that Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping decided to give each other a little trade slack did hit the press on Sunday morning. Mr. Trump said he wouldn’t impose a 25 percent tariff on the remaining $200 billion in Chinese exports that currently have a 10 percent tariff status. And the Chinese president said China would buy more from the United States to reduce the gap in trade.

Both sides agreed to finalize their differences in 90 days. If China doesn’t give in to Trump’s request to change their trade policy, Trump will change the duty rate on all Chinese good to 25 percent. The Chinese products that already have a 25 percent duty rate are products found in other consumer products so middlemen and wholesalers took the tariff punch for that merchandise. They absorbed the cost of the additional duty. But if Trump doesn’t get his way, the other $200 billion in Chinese merchandise like clothing, toys, and shoes will directly impact American consumers.

Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Trade Minister said China would expand U.S. imports, but only if those imports met the demand of Chinese consumers. In other words, China might import more goods from the United States if Chinese consumers want them.

Some news reports say the trade ceasefire reminds them of the deal Trump has with North Korea. Trump called his meeting with Kim Jon Un, North Korea’s leader, a win for the American people by averting a nuclear showdown with Kim. But North Korea hasn’t stopped working on their nuclear program. The only thing North Korea did was try to mend fences with South Korea. And Trump didn’t play a role in that reunion.

The G20 Summit did help Trump get away from the alligators swimming in the Washington swamp. And it helped the other 19 G20 members do what they had to do to reinforce their commitment to the Paris Climate Accord and other joint projects. Trump wasn’t his normal destructive self at the meeting. He didn’t intentionally try to irritate German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But he did have a short meeting with Russian President Putin. The topic of that meeting is still a mystery.

cean Spray Involved in Class Action Lawsuit

OOcean Spray’s Class-Act Lawsuit

Ocean Spray is facing a class action lawsuit on misleading advertising. The popular drink has claimed that their substance does not contain any flavors; yet they do.

proposed class action lawsuit was filed this week against Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. over the juice maker’s allegedly false labeling of its beverages. The popular beverage states that it does not have any high fructose corn syrup in its product, however there is now evidence that is false.

What is the claim against the beverage company?

* The claim against the beverage company is that there has been high fructose corn syrup used in packaging. It also states that additional flavors and artificial colors were used.

* The claim states that they were not honest or authentic about what they put in the beverages.

* They also mislead the public in thinking that they were being honest and ethical about the beverage.

What was the motive?

There are speculations about why this was done. Many people are having a hard time believing that a company whose product is based on wholesome, pure liquid would participate in such a lie.

The believed motives are that the company wanted to take advantage of the public’s perception of health drinks. The company freely admits they wanted to take advantage of a mindset that natural was healthier, and market their product as such.

Drinks involved in the dispute

There were eleven drinks in the dispute in total, including highly popular beverages.

Why Was There A Class Action Lawsuit?

The class action lawsuit hopes to prove that the company defrauded the public, and that the public is entitled to know the truth of what happens. The class action has currently decided to not participate with California in the class action lawsuit, however every other case has been part of this.

Only time will tell whether the drink will be able to continue to stay in business.

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Sears Files Bankruptcy Petition

Sears has finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It might be the beginning of the end for the company that dominated the American retail industry for over a century. For the time being though, Sears will keep hundreds of its stores open pursuant to an agreement that it entered into with its creditors

Sears merged with Kmart in 2005. At this point in time, it still has about 700 Sears and Kmart stores up and running. Many of those stores have never been visited by millennials. The retailer intends to close 142 of those stores by the end of 2018. They’re simply not making any money. On top of those, there are another 46 stores that it intends on closing by the end of November, 2018. In all, Sears employs about 70,000 people. Sears had about $134 million of loans that were due on October 15, 2018. It filed the Chapter 11 proceedings that morning.

Sears sold everything from clothes to it’s famous Craftsman tools to Kenmore appliances. At one time it even sold prefabricated homes. According to CNBC, Richard Sears began the Sears Watch company in 1886. He sold watches by mail. He partnered with Alvah Roebuck, and the two began offering consumer products in a catalogue with delivery by mail. Sears Roebuck opened its first store in Chicago in 1925, and by the end of the year, it opened seven other stores. In 2006, only a year after the Kmart acquisition, Sears was worth more than $20 billion. Walmart, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot kept opening stores though, with a wider variety of home improvement materials and tools. Then, the Great Recession came, and with the rise of Amazon, buyers started buying products online.

Now, Sears hasn’t shown a profit since 2010. A drastically reduced cash flow doesn’t allow Sears to invest very much in itself anymore. The company’s ratio of expenditures to sales is less than one percent. Even its famous Craftsman Tool brand has been sold to Stanley Black & Decker, and 250 of its top properties have been sold. In addition to it’s present woes, Sears has 100,000 retirees, and it’s pension fund is underfunded by $1.5 billion. What comes to issue now is whether Sears will come out of bankruptcy. Few retailers have successfully done so.

Washington’s dilemma on taming the tech giants.

According to Forbes magazine report of June 2017, Washington DC was ranked third among the US tech cities, and a leading knowledge hub and innovation hotspot. Due to its skilled workforce, according to the US Bureau of labor and statistics, the metro DC area is ranked number one in high tech, with employment in the sector being 2.5 times more concentrated there than in the rest of the united states.

A controversial debate has been initiated in Washington as calls have been made to the federal government to regulate the giants in the technology industry, citing misinformation and political bias. The giant tech companies namely Google and Facebook have been on the spot for quite some time now, with several accusations being made against them. Google, for instance, has allegedly been promoting information that is either untrue, or distorted with utmost right-wing bias on subjects like spreading fake news to build support for conservative political leaders. Facebook on the other hand has received its fair share of accusations, one of them being that they sell users personal information to political consulting firms and suppress conservative news stories from trending news.

Among these reasons, the legislative and administrative organs in Washington feels that these giants have had a lot of power and influence in the industry and on people’s online activities. Capitol Hill says that big tech is to an extent of sabotaging other online advertising companies that have been struggling to establish themselves on the digital platform as they experience slowing revenue. According to LUMA partners, a leading investment bank that does analysis on digital media and marketing, there has been a fall in the number of independent ad tech companies since 2013 by 21 per cent to 185 in the second quarter of 2018. A wide spread of online advertising continues to rise to more than $88 million in 2017. However, more than 90 percent of that growth went to Google and Facebook as reported by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group in New York.

In the broader picture, we cannot deny that the giant tech companies have become increasingly attractive as more users come on board. As a result, it is going to be almost impossible for other companies to compete and for any government to challenge them. Washington is only the latest state to show its frustrations on these internet firms. France and Germany are already implementing fines on them for not following the rules governing the industry.

Encounter the Most Crowded Airlines: Load Factor Reaches a Record High

Summer has finally arrived. That means even more stacked planes and close airports. If one thinks that airline trips are much crowded than how they were before, then they are absolutely right. The passenger load factor otherwise known as (PLF) of commercial airways has risen tremendously over the past decade. In 2005, airlines had a mean load factor of 75.2%. Therefore on average, only three seats for every four seats were traded.

The recession of 2007-2010 halted the load factor growth. However, by 2018, the average load factor reached 81.7% globally. In the United States, the load factor has risen on domestic flights. It has inflated from 67.88% in 2002 to 86.08% by 2018. During that time, the number of domestic trips has had an almost stationary status. This is from 8,085,083 in 2002 to 8,176,610 in 2017. The US airline sector has gotten even better in documenting seats as revenue passenger miles rose. It has seen a significant increase from 471,652,206 in 2002 to 684,221,393 in 2017.

The era of having an entire row to space up in coach is a thing of the past. It is also inclusive of having an empty middle seat disjointing one from his or her neighbor. The airlines rarely mourn over it. On the contrary, these airlines of global repute are busy shrinking seats and cramming additional seats. As one might anticipate, the reduced cost carriers typically have the highest load factor. However, the load factor can at times fluctuate. An example is the Frontier Airlines. Its load factor grew from 73.5% in 2004 to an incredible 91.28% in 2013. From that moment, however, the load factor no matter how robust, has dropped significantly. It was noted in 2017 when it turned back to 86.36%. It may due to heightening competition from major airlines. They offer the dread “basic economy” fare. It starts with Delta’s “experiment” in 2014.

According to Forbes, as of July 2017, Ireland’s Ryanair was the most packed airline. Its load factor was 93.1% in 2016. Furthermore, the airline propelled the figure further to 94.7% in 2017. The airline is somehow involved in a “cattle car” reputation. Regardless, Ryanair successfully stacked in 130 million Millennials in the 2017-2018 fiscal years. However, other carriers challenged it for its passenger packing size. Four other different carriers boasted of 90% or even enhanced load factor in 2017. It was headed by India’s very own Spicejet. It flew an average of 92.8% full.

How US Politics, though Illegal, are affecting the US Market

Trade tensions have been rising every passing day which is affecting the forex trading platform. The effect has been felt everywhere in the market since the threats turned to reality. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump’s administration announced imposing tariffs on aluminum and steel. Target countries included the European Union (EU) markets and China that are prominent producers of steel worldwide. The notice came by surprise to many of the United States trade allies as well as some politicians in America.

Investors have been shunning away from risk in the forex trade as currencies continue to lose value in the market. Forecasters warn of greater impacts and effects should this continue, risking business and the economy. Recently, German received an increased levy on their cars just when the Merkel government is struggling with immigration issues. However, the tensions are favorable to some currencies such as the Japanese Yen that continues to rise against the greenback significantly.

Today, the forex platform was all about trade tensions with the increasing threats and protective measures from Washington. These continue to intensify weighing on the upper betas generally while a slowdown of the increased trade plays out. The US trade allies in response to the tariffs by Trump warned of raising taxes on specific US commodities. The EU announced targeting particular products such as motorbikes among others in retaliation. Trump, having imposed the levies, forced his allies to pose trade barriers in retaliation to the tariffs. In retaliation, President Donald Trump has again threatened China and the EU to withdraw these barriers, failure to which there will be severe consequences.

Among the new threats, the administration will add tariffs to Chinese tech firms. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration plans to stop Chinese tech industries from investing in American tech corporations. Additionally, Beijing’s tech exports will be blocked. Currencies continue to deteriorate in value against the USD in the Forex space recording a significant fall with the Euro in New York closing at 1.1703. Ahead of the EU Summit, GBP/USD was stable then uneven to the top closing at 1.3280. On the NY session at +0.13% within the N. American range of 1.3289 to 1.3251.

Oil was lower besides copper that in the June rout was nose-diving. For the first time since late last year, gold recorded a close beneath the 200-D SMA. The Aussie nosedived to 0.7397 from 0.7440 ranking it as one of the most underperforming commodities. However, Kiwi hiked from 0.6901 to 0.6890 in the equity market.

Upward Trend in Associate Salaries Shows No Sign of Abating

The news earlier this month of increased associate salaries at multiple top-tier law firms has sparked curiosity among observers as to whether this trend is likely to spread to other players in the industry. As reported in the New York Law Journal, it appears that boutique firms are among those making the leap, something which comes as a bit of a surprise.

Several boutiques in the litigation realm have announced that they plan to match the $190,000 starting salary salvo launched by Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy. Among them are Chicago’s Barack Ferrazzano, Kirschbaum & Nagelberg and Hueston Hennigan of Southern California. Rumors of Susman Godfrey moving associate pay beyond the already eye-watering $190,000 level have also begun to take root.

The smaller firms in question tend to hire a comparatively limited group of associates every year, with those candidates possessing stellar qualifications from elite schools. However, it is the simplified leadership hierarchies of these firms that enable them to meet market trends swiftly, absorb expenses more effectively and remain competitive when it comes to attracting top talent.

Smaller, boutique firms are well aware of the massive amounts of student loan debt so many new recruits have at the start of their careers. As such, managing partners are seeking to ensure that pay is not among the primary reasons a prized candidate decides to go elsewhere.

Many boutique enterprises have been able to raise associate pay levels without instituting a concomitant, and likely unpopular increase in client rates. Several such firms have explained that associate raises were essentially baked into their overall financial strategy, something which incorporates a fair amount of budgetary flexibility and far fewer bureaucratic hoops than larger firm structures.

In the end, because of the need to attract the best and brightest young legal minds and to foster an atmosphere in which long-term employee retention is assumed, it appears likely that firms in this category will do whatever it takes to keep pace with the giants.


Dodd-Frank Rollback

The Dodd-Frank rollback is now law (S.2155). As the Jurist reports, Trump signed the law on May 25, 2018. Now, banks without $250 billion in assets are not subject to some of the more limiting Dodd-Frank regulations. Previously, banks were subject to the restrictions if they had just $50 billion in assets. The Jurist highlights the new law, citing the Washington Post’s article for much of the detail changes, including repeal of the Volcker Rule for smaller banks holding over $10 billion in assets. This article will highlight some of the changes, including what those changes might mean to the larger public.

Overall, regulations add costs for businesses. Just generally speaking, when a business must comply with a new law from Congress or rule from an administrative agency, that compliance will cost money. Even if there is an elimination of any particular regulation because the business will need to adjust some aspect of business in order to either take advantage of the lower regulatory bar or adjust to add process and/or procedure to comply with the new regulation or law.

Yet another aspect of the regulatory environment is that some regulations protect business from legal liability. For example, if a drug maker follows all of the FDA’s rules relating to testing and efficacy, that compliance may be cited by the business in any allegation regarding the corporation’s lack of negligence.

But, back to the new Dodd-Frank rules, first is the new Volcker asset floor. The Volcker rule prevents banks from using their deposit accounts (checking and savings deposits) for investment banking activities. Investment banking is far more risky than other investment vehicles. Now, banks with less than $10 billion in assets are allowed to use their depository accounts for investment banking into stocks, bonds and other securities. These investment banking securities, while being more risky, offer potentially greater returns on investments.

Another change involves the annual stress test that banks were required to perform. These tests were used to see if a bank could survive another meltdown like that from the Great Recession. These tests cost lost of money to perform. Now, if the bank has less than $250 billion, it is not required to perform the annual test.

Finally, the Dodd-Frank rollback eliminates the requirement that banks provide detailed information on their borrowers. Now, and again with that same threshold of $250 billion, banks are not required to report on its borrowers.

Overall, only the largest of banks will now be subject to the regulations put in place under Dodd-Frank. One estimate is that the number of banks subject to the rule has now gone from 38 to now only 12. Of note, some well known banks (American Express and Ally Financial) are now outside of the law’s $250 billion threshold.

Rachael Dolzeal – Another Fraud?

Rachael Dolezal is a former NAACP chapter leader who resigned from her post in 2015 after it was discovered that in reality, she was born of white parentage. Now, after going through a name change, Dolezal is Nkechi Diallo, and she stands accused of another kind of fraud. According to the Time Magazine, she has apparently been charged with theft, welfare fraud, perjury and use of false verification for purposes of obtaining public assistance in connection with about $8,847 of food and child welfare assistance from 2015 to 2017.

An investigation into Diallo began after she published a book. An investigator suspected that she had received an advance against royalties on the book of between $10,000 and $20,000. She later deposited about $84,000 into her bank account from proceeds of the sale of the book, gifts, sales of her art and other endeavors which she failed to report. That income would have made her ineligible for the benefits that she received. She reported that she was only earning about $500 per month from child support and some help from some friends. She claims to have fully cooperated with investigators, but she reportedly terminated an interview with them because she had not been given any Miranda warnings. Along with the criminal charges that carry up to 15 years in prison, the State of Washington is also seeking restitution.

Nkechi Diallo is originally from Troy, Montana. Her parents were devout Christians who adopted four black children. After becoming divorced, she began identifying herself as black. The racial claim worked for her up until about three years ago when her parents declared that she had been born white. She had been presenting herself as a black activist in and around Spokane. She subsequently resigned as the leader of the Spokane area NAACP, booted from a public ombudsman position and terminated from teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University. The case against Nkechi Diallo is set for arraignment on June 6, 2018.

Sesame Street’s Parent Company Sues Over Melissa McCarthy’s New Film

The creators of Sesame Street have filed a lawsuit against STX Productions, the production company behind the upcoming movie The Happytime Murders. The Happytime Murders is a comedy that stars Melissa McCarthy and a puppet cast.

Sesame Street’s parent company is claiming that the marketing strategy for the film is damaging Sesame Street’s wholesome brand. The company believes that the film is depicting Sesame-Street style themes and objects to the marketing tagline: “No Sesame, All Street”.

In a report by Vanity Fair, the plaintiff’s lawsuit states that Sesame Street was spent nearly 50 years to build and maintain a level of trust with its audience of parents and young children on its reputation of providing wholesome educational programming. The lawsuit goes further to state that The defendant, STX Productions, seeks to inflict irreparable damage to Sesame’s Street trademark and brand by connecting an adult movie to the Sesame Street brand. The plaintiffs believe that the defendant was aware of what they were doing when they chose the tagline “No Sesame, All Street”. The tagline intentionally appropriated the Sesame Street’s goodwill and implies and association that does not exist to the film.

Sesame Street’s parent company is seeking unspecified damages.

STX confirmed that lawsuit after the company released the first trailer for The Happytime Murders. The production company has issued a statement that was attributed to its puppet representative Fred, Esq.

In the statement, STX expressed its joy of working with the Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Company to tell the story of the lives of Henson puppets when they aren’t performing. The film is result of that collaboration and the company expressed its happiness that the film is being received well by its intended audience. The company is disappointed that Sesame Street is not sharing in the fun, but they are confident about their legal position. STX looks forward to adult moviegoers enjoying their unapologetic and adorable characters when the movie gets released this summer.

The Happytime Murders is about a serial killer who is targeting the puppet cast from a 1980’s kid’s television show. Melissa McCarthy plays Connie Edwards, a detective who is hunting down the killer. The movie also stars Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, and Maya Rudolph. Brian Henson, the son of Jim Henson, directed this film. The film scheduled for release on August 17th.

Facebook Hit with Class-action Lawsuits

A class-action lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California stating that Facebook violated the user rights of those using an Android device. The suit alleges that Facebook collected data including people’s phone lists that went beyond what was reasonable. The suit says that there was no indication to the normal user that this invasion of their privacy would occur. The suit continues by saying that there are no available legal alternatives that would make users whole again.

Facial Recognition Class-action Lawsuit

This is the second class-action lawsuit that Facebook has been hit with in recent weeks, reveals The first indicated that the social media company’s facial recognition and “tagging” technology was a violation of the person’s privacy.

Requirements for a Class-action Lawsuit

This case was also filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. A judge has ruled that the second case meets all four requirements for a class action lawsuit. Those conditions are:

  • The class is large enough that the action of bringing all members together is impractical
  • All members may have been hurt by the law in the same way
  • The parties’ claims are typical of those of other people in the group
  • The named parties have proven that they would protect other members of the group

Cambridge Analytica LTD

Facebook has recently been asked to testify in front of the United States Congress over its behavior in Cambridge Analytica LTD scandal. In that case, Cambridge Analytica has been accused of harvesting data from over 50 million Facebook users.

It still remains to be seen what action a judge will take in this most recent court case. It also remains to be seen if Facebook can survive with new cases being put forth each day.

Car Loan Bias Rule Overturned

In a challenge to the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the United States House of Representatives voted to overturn an Obama-era rule aimed at preventing discrimination against consumers obtaining car loans. Based on a 234-175 vote mostly along party lines, the House struck down the rule that prevented auto lenders from having the ability to charge higher fees to buyers based on not only their credit score, but also national origin or race.

The rule, first implemented in 2013, was initially voted on in the U.S. Senate in April, where members determined they had the votes needed to repeal the rule. Once this vote was taken, the Government Accountability Office decided it was legal to reverse the rule, based on procedures contained in the Congressional Review Act.

Strongly opposed from the beginning by the National Automobile Dealers Association, the rule was viewed by NADA as an obstacle that severely limited the flexibility dealers would normally have to provide discounted auto loans to their customers. According to Peter Welch, who serves as NADA President, the rollback of the rule will now let local dealerships across the nation exercise their judgment in attempting to provide customers the best options for financing a vehicle.

However, as it usually is with any type of political decision, there is an opposite reaction to the ruling. According to attorneys representing the Center for Responsible Lending, there is now concern that by overturning the law, other federal agencies may be at risk of having their rules also overturned, especially those that focus on protecting consumers from predatory lenders.

Based on the actions of the House and Senate, many questions have now arisen as to how many more agencies similar to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will have their rules dismissed by the federal government. As the resolution voted on by Congress now heads to the desk of President Donald Trump for his signature, the debate continues as to how effective the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be in the months and years ahead. While some applaud the additional freedoms now granted to individual businesses, others view the ruling as the first step in what could be a long line of rules and regulations being overturned. To learn more about the ruling and additional details surrounding the fate of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, please visit the link to this article at

The Government Went Seeking Justice at Visium. But Was it Served?

Nearly two years after being rocked by an investigation, Visium Asset Management continues to wind down its business. In June 2016, the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office laid charges emanating from bond mis-marking and inflated portfolio assets as the result of evidence brought forward by whistleblower Jason Thorell.

Thorell’s concerns over mispricing surfaced in June 2013 when he raised the issue with Visium’s founder and CIO, Jacob Gottlieb while recording the conversation. Thorell subsequently reported his concerns to the SEC and in collaboration with the FBI and the SEC, Thorell spent more than two years gathering evidence in the form of hundreds of hours of recorded conversations. This evidence triggered an investigation into Visium’s holdings and resulted in the charges brought against two former employees. Despite the fact that only 2% of the company’s employees were involved, the charges resulted in the very public destruction of the $8 billion firm and left over 170 employees suddenly without jobs.

Today, the SEC settled charges against Visium Asset Management for insider trading and inflation of fund returns.

The only person remaining at the firm is Jacob Gottlieb, and he continues his work as CIO as Visium winds down. Gottlieb founded Visium in 2005 with a vision of creating a healthcare-focused hedge fund that would put company culture and employees first. Before creating Visium, Gottlieb had been an extremely successful portfolio manager at several other firms. However, he noticed that many companies had a cutthroat culture and suffered from a lack of team work and leadership support. Gottlieb wanted Visium to be different and he sought to create a company that offered employees a positive and collaborative culture, long-term career opportunities, and professional development.

Gottlieb’s long and deliberate recruitment process assessed not only skills and experience but also, and most importantly, cultural fit. New employees were supported with a formal onboarding process and regular meetings with Gottlieb himself to assess progress and set goals. New portfolio managers were also paired with research dirtectors to support them through the initial learning period, help them identify mistakes, and provide ongoing coaching on how to improve. With this strong support system, Visium portfolio managers were successful; and at its peak in 2016, the company had the aforementioned 170 employees and $8 billion in AUM.

Given the supportive environment that fostered many Visium employees to launch successful careers beginnings, it didnt’ come as a surprise when many of them were quickly picked up by competitors in 2016. Being accustomed to Gottlieb’s nurturing leadership style, the former employees quickly realized the sink-or-swim mentality that their new employers harnessed. 20 Visium employees were poached by Aptigon Capital, a subsidiary of Citadel, at the first sign of the unfurling insider trading scandal. Citadel founder and CEO, Ken Griffin lured employees away from Visium with generous pay packages and the promise of managing $1 billion portfolios. Griffin’s no stranger to poaching talent and has been quoted as saying “the talent you want to hire is the talent you want to pull from someone else.”

What Visium employees didn’t realize was that Griffin would live up to his reputation as an unforgiving boss who is quick to dismiss employees. Part of Griffin’s promise to employees was that they would receive the support of analysts to service their portfolios, but this promise went unfulfilled leaving the managers overworked and under-resourced. The Visium employees were also burdened by Aptigon’s aggressive fee structure. The higher fees Aptigon demanded meant that the managers needed to achieve higher returns than they were used to, without the assistance of the skilled analysts and collaborative culture that they were accustomed to under Visium (and Gottlieb)’s leadership. As a result, of the 20 Visium portfolio managers recruited by Aptigon, only two remain less than two years later.

The fall of Visium was caused by the actions of a small number of employees escaping detection for a short period of time- as confirmed by the SEC’s recent press release earlier today. Ultimately, many have suffered from the resulting layoffs and the lack of professional success at other firms, like Aptigon. To further illustrate the scope of the issues resulting from the dissolution of Visium, we can look at the fate of employees who have gone to competing firms. At the same time Aptigon was recruiting Visium employees, other Visium portfolio managers joined rival firm AllianceBernstein Holding LP. Although the Visium employees have been successful at AllianceBernstein, their success is lining the pockets of the foreign-owned parent company, AXA. Through Visium’s downfall, the American economy has lost talented workers and money to foreign-based entities.

The fate of the 170 innocent people who’ve suffered as a result of the events at Visium is often overlooked. The magnitude of the inflated assets are estimated to be approximately $4.5 million …a relatively small amount considering that it has forced the closure of an $8 billion company and the loss of 170 jobs. In the epilogue, there is no doubt that Gottlieb’s Visium was a firm with good intentions; a positive firm for investors and employees. The impact of Visium’s closure extends well beyond the named parties. Is this justice?

Mathematics, Law, Business, and Charity: The Unique American Dream of Tony Petrello

UPDATED May 2nd, 2018 – In the world of corporate executives and CEOs, perhaps few have a story as surprising and fascinating as Tony Petrello. From his humble beginnings growing up in a working-class environment in Newark, New Jersey, to running the world’s largest land-based drilling company, to helping fund hundreds of millions of dollars in research toward a global neurological disease, Petrello has experienced a truly astounding lifetime filled with successes and turns of fate.

It’s an understatement to say that Tony Petrello’s career has been one of great success. After all, in 2015, Tony Petrello was one of the highest-compensated CEOs in the U.S. thanks to his tenure as CEO of global oil company Nabors. But Tony’s story extends far earlier than his time at Nabors and includes a long list of surprising turns that eventually led him to the level of success he’s achieved today. Tony’s many achievements have been the products of natural gifts, consistent hard work, and creative thinking that’s spanned a diverse career over many decades.

It’s also important to note the ways in which Tony has given back to society, particularly how he’s worked to help children with neurological disorders. For certain, his life is worthy of admiration and emulation. But to truly understand how that level of success in multiple metrics came to be, it’s important to go back to the beginning and find out how Tony Petrello became who he is today.

A Remarkable Student

Tony grew up in Newark, N.J., where he attended public schools. He’s been described by former roommates and classmates as a working-class young man who carried the classic New Jersey accent and the outgoing attitude to match. He stood apart with his passion and willingness to speak out about the subjects he cared about most. His friends and those who knew him when he was young often described him as an extrovert, someone comfortable speaking his mind on a regular basis. Often his sense of humor was on full display, but it wasn’t the aspect of his personality that stood out the most.

When he was in high school, Petrello became downright famous in his hometown for his amazing math abilities. In classic Hollywood style, Petrello was even known to spend his free time writing down obscure equations and proofs on scraps of paper or napkins and solving them himself. While for the time being his incredible prowess was reserved to those in his immediate circle and social setting, that didn’t last long. Yale University took notice, and it awarded Tony a scholarship and the opportunity to be mentored by Serge Lang.

Lang was a brilliant mathematician, author, and professor. Born in France in 1927, Lang became famous for his groundbreaking work in number theory and for penning a series of math textbooks across a wide range of mathematical disciplines. He went on to become professor emeritus of mathematics at Yale, where he met Tony Petrello.

It’s possible that Lang was disappointed when he discovered that Petrello wasn’t interested in pursuing the field of mathematics or academia, opting instead to jump into the world of law.

But while still at Yale, from which he would receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he became known for his outgoing personality and strong sense of humor. In fact, Yale changed Tony Petrello’s social life and eventually his entire future in a truly special way. It was there that he met Cynthia, his beloved wife. Cynthia would go on to become a dancer, movie and TV actress, as well as a respected soap opera producer.

After graduating from Yale, Tony Petrello surprised many of his professors and classmates when he decided not to become a mathematician. Rather, he enrolled in Harvard Law School. His motivations for pursuing law rather than mathematics aren’t entirely known, but it’s possible that his boisterous personality and strong opinions made the quiet life of an academic seem less than appealing to him. Whatever the case, Petrello graduated from Harvard Law school in the 1970s and never looked back.

Law or Business?

In 1979, Tony Petrello joined Baker & McKenzie, a major American law firm. There he specialized in business law, especially taxation and arbitration. It was here that he discovered a passion for business, where law and finances intersect in fascinating and thrilling ways. In 1986, he became a managing partner of its New York division. He would function in this role for some time before a turn of fate led him down another path, this one even more unexpected than the last.

At Baker & McKenzie, Tony Petrello worked with a client by the name of Nabors Industries.

Tony Petrello CEO Nabors
Tony Petrello became the CEO of Nabors Industries in 2011

Founded in 1968, Nabors Industries is now listed on the S&P 500 and works to contract geothermal, natural gas and oil drilling equipment and projects throughout the world, mainly based on land. From their beginnings five decades ago they have gone on to become the largest land-drilling organization in the world, operating in 25 countries with over half-a-thousand rigs in operation worldwide.

But before all of that, Nabors was just a client that Petrello worked closely with during his time at Baker & McKenzie. And in any other circumstance, it would have likely ended at that. But Petrello had always been someone capable of making a lasting impression, and he did exactly that here as well.

During Petrello’s time servicing the Nabors account, he made an impressive impact that did not go unnoticed by the higher ups at the company. They didn’t’ just appreciate his hard work and re-up their business with his firm. Managers at Nabors were so impressed by Tony’s efforts and powers of analysis that they began trying to hire him away for themselves. It’s a testament to Petrello’s natural abilities in business that with no official business experience or education he was able to make such a powerful impact on a large-scale organization like Nabors.

Nabors lobbied and tried to convince Nabors to join them for some time, and eventually their efforts were destined to pay off. Petrello left Baker & McKenzie to join Nabors as an executive. A budding mathematician turned corporate attorney was headed for a new career. He was set to become a business executive.

Thus, after he’d lived in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, Tony Petrello was off to make his residence in an entirely new place: Texas. For a still-young and east-coast-centered individual like Petrello, Texas may as well have been the moon. But with an eye for adventure and excitement for where his new career might take him, Petrello packed up and headed off to the southwest. The Lone Star State is his home to this day.

Tony Petrello’s Life at Nabors and Beyond

Tony Petrello helped direct a $32 million purchase of a firm called Grace Drilling

In 1991, Tony Petrello began serving as Nabors’ Chief Operating Officer. In this role he was responsible for Nabors’ daily operations just below the CEO. That same year, he cemented his place at the firm even further when he took a seat on the board of directors as well as the board’s executive committee.

Anyone who’s followed Petrello’s story or knows anything about his approach to life and business can likely guess what happened next. Petrello was so impressive in his role as COO that when the time came, he was considered first in line to take the reins of Nabors.

In 1992, he became the president. From here he began to leave his mark on Nabors’ and the industry with a series of moves that cemented their place as the world’s largest land drilling company and a powerhouse of business success. His achievements in those positions were undeniably helpful in terms of building up the company. For instance, in 1993, Tony Petrello helped direct a $32 million purchase of a firm called Grace Drilling. Also, a much larger transaction in 2010 brought Superior Well Services under Nabors’ corporate umbrella. This attitude towards expansion and collaborative partnerships helped establish Petrello as a savvy businessman who knew how to bring in greater levels of success.

Since October 28, 2011, Tony Petrello has been Nabors’ CEO. On top of that, in June 2012, he was named the chairman of the board as well as chairman of the board’s executive committee. During that time, he’s led the way in several major events within the company and the industry as a whole.

In 2014 the company reached a deal with C&J Energy, wherein they would combine their Completion and Production company operations to create a more streamlined flow of production.

In 2015, Petrello led the company in signing a deal with KazMunayGas, an oil company based in Kazakhstan. This created the joint venture known as KMG Nabors Drilling Company. This opened up availability of a vast drilling field in Kazakhstan known as Tengiz field, increasing revenue for the company both in the short-term and for years to come.

Petrello led another collaborative contract in 2016, when Nabors signed with Saudi Aramco to create a joint venture called SANAD. Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest oil company, with an estimated market value of as much as $10 trillion. It is the most valuable company on earth, as well as arguably the most profitable. It’s headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and operates the Master Gas System. This is the largest hydrocarbon network anywhere in the world. Petrello and Nabors knew that this was a company worth partnering with

By common acclaim, Tony Petrello’s leadership at Nabors has been top-notch. During the past six years, he’s allowed the company to keep growing and thriving in an industry where the competition is intense, to say the least, at all times. Even as the oil industry as a whole has experienced struggles as alternative fuels begin to increase in popularity, Petrello has kept Nabors at the leading edge of success.

Indeed, Tony Petrello is extremely adept at day-to-day management tasks as well as the creation of long-term strategic visions. It’s this dual focus that speaks to his original prowess as a mathematician. He can see the whole equation, from the details to the big picture, in order to make strategic choices that will eventually lead to a solution.

His legal experience and education have also proven invaluable, as he’s been able to perceive the workings of a potential deal in order to make it the most effective for all involved parties.

In addition to his many duties at Nabors, Tony Petrello has been a director at This company represents the newest generation of video-on-demand services that brings enhanced functionality to the on-demand experience. This includes real-time data and updating information including interactive activities and even navigation information. Today, Petrello is now a director at Hilcorp Energy Company. Hilcorp is one of the world’s biggest oil and natural gas companies that’s remained privately-owned, with exploration and production facilities across the United States. In fact, Hilcorp is the largest producer of oil in the entire state of Louisiana. Like Nabors, Hilcorp is also headquartered in Texas.

In addition to all these duties, Petrello also serves as a director at Stewart & Stevenson. Also based in Houston, TX, Stewart & Stevenson is a privately held manufacturing company that produces oil and gas industry-related equipment. They produce everything from swamp buggies for transportation to precise, minor parts for major mining operations.

This level of activity in a wide range of companies shows Petrello’s far-reaching instincts for business. But Petrello’s life is a story of moving beyond business and profits to have a more lasting, meaningful impact on the world. To fully understand his place in the world, it’s important to take a look at Petrello’s philanthropic efforts outside of business and how they came to be.

An Extraordinary Philanthropist

tony petrello jan and dan center
Tony Petrello and his wife Cynthia have donated over $7 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital

In the late 1990s, Tony and Cynthia Petrello had a daughter named Carena. While this was an incredibly joyful time for both Tony and Cynthia, it came with a struggle that would shape the next decades of all of their lives. At birth, Carena weighed 20 ounces, and she suffered from cerebral palsy. In addition to wide range of other issues and complications, Carena wouldn’t be able to eat solid foods until she was about 7 years old.

Cerebral palsy is a condition that incorporates a range of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move naturally. The symptoms and severity can vary widely, but generally involve inability to walk normally, muscles that are too weak or stiff to function, or overall struggles with coordination. They can also include problems in other areas of development, including vision, hearing, and speaking. In cases like Carena’s, the ability to swallow and experience other sensations is also affected.

After going through the difficult childhood that Carena experienced, Tony Petrello wanted to help other children with neurological conditions. And as we’ve already seen with Tony Petrello this far, he rarely does anything halfway. When he decides to take action, he truly takes action. Therefore, he donated $7 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital, and he also took a seat on its board of trustees. The hospital was able to put that money toward the construction of a complex dedicated to pediatric neurological care. It’s called the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, and it’s a cutting-edge institution.

The Institute treats children from across the country and the globe, and it’s provided hope to countless families. In addition to treatment, it’s also focused heavily on striving to access the root causes of neurological conditions like cerebral palsy. With over one billion people worldwide suffering from some degree of neurological disease or disorder, the institute believes its mission is absolutely vital in improving the lives of people all over the world. That mission will not only have an impact on the lives of those currently living with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders, but also countless people in the future who will benefit from this priceless research.

The institute focuses on collaboration between thinkers and researchers in a wide range of disciplines, with the goal of helping prevent, identify, and treat neurological disorders and improve the lives of those who have them.

Over time, Tony Petrello has used his business acumen to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations to this cause, and those efforts are ongoing.

Finally, Tony Petrello is quick to credit luck for many of his accomplishments. However, his friends, his family members, his colleagues, and everyone who’s gotten to know Tony’s powerful work ethic and big heart realize that good fortune is only one small aspect of his amazing life story.


From his beginnings as a youth in New Jersey to his philanthropic work for the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute and beyond, Tony Petrello has spent his entire life leaving a mark on the world. First as a mathematician, then as a lawyer, and finally as a hugely successful corporate executive with a long list of accolades, acquisitions, and philanthropic efforts, Petrello will not soon be forgotten in the world of business or beyond.

The only question that now remains is—where will Petrello leave his mark next? His wide variety of skills, career paths and ventures leave the door wide open.

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