Our Criminal Securities Laws Do No Reach Transactions Outside the United States

What happens outside the USA, stays outside the USA. Sort of.

A couple weeks ago, a federal court of appeals ruled that there can be no criminal liability for securities fraud based solely on foreign activity. Makes sense, right? The decision applied and extended the logic of a 2010 case in which the Supreme Court said the same thing about civil liability: that is, there can be no civil liability for securities fraud based only on foreign activity.

But as with so many things in law and life, there are caveats. First, the appellate court’s decision covers only New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, though it’s likely to be adopted elsewhere. Second, if the alleged conduct has anything to do with American securities or stock exchanges, and you’re convicted of even a single count based on that domestic activity, the court may be able to sentence you based on the overall loss, which can include all foreign activity that was part of the same course of conduct or common scheme or plan.

So the devil’s in the details, as this article explains.

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