Finance

Our lawyers couple a deep understanding of the complex financial industry with unsurpassed litigation experience to help financial institutions and individuals avoid, settle or prevail in litigation.

We have successfully defended clients from government investigations and claims of insider trading, breach of fraud and fiduciary duty, mortgage fraud-related claims and class actions.

Cases of Note

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Former Chief Executive Officer: We are currently defending the former CEO of Fannie Mae in an SEC action filed in the Southern District of New York related to Fannie Mae’s disclosures regarding its exposure to “subprime” and “Alt-A” residential mortgages.

United States v. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., et al.: As lead counsel for McGraw Hill and its Standard and Poor’s division, we defended our client from the government’s suit which sought at least $5 billion in penalties under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act. The government accused S&P of fraud in its rating of hundreds of residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) in the years leading up to the financial crisis in 2008. McGraw Hill ultimately settled with the government, and more than 20 states that made similar claims under state laws.

Receiver v. Venture Capital Firm: We won a total victory for a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm, which, along with 17 other defendants, was accused of conspiracy and breach of fiduciary duty. Our client and another venture capital firm invested in an internet-based portfolio company. The other firm sold the company’s stock to our client, which made a substantial profit after the company’s IPO. The stock sale, along with several other investments, led to the other firm’s collapse. In an effort to recoup its losses, the other firm’s receiver filed suit, accusing our client of conspiring with the company to sell the stock for a fraction of its value. Nearly all the other defendants settled, however we litigated the matter to its conclusion. After winning three different demurrers and a motion to dismiss, we won a final judgment for our client.

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Brian Stoker: We defended former Citigroup executive Brian Stoker in one of the rare financial crisis cases to go to trial. Mr. Stoker, who worked on the structuring desk at Citigroup, was charged with securities fraud in connection with Citigroup’s 2007 marketing of a $1 billion collateralized debt obligation (CDO) backed by assets tied to the housing market. In its enforcement action the SEC contended that Citigroup had played a role in the selection of the CDO’s underlying mortgage securities and had taken a short position in those securities. The SEC contended that Mr. Stoker was negligent for not disclosing information about Citigroup’s actions in its marketing materials. After a two-week jury trial in the Southern District of New York with Judge Rakoff presiding, the federal jury rejected the SEC’s case and found Mr. Stoker not liable on any of the SEC’s claims.

Plaintiff v. Venture Capital Firm and Firm Partner: On behalf of a venture capital firm and its general partners, we defeated aggressive litigation filed by one of the firm’s portfolio companies. Our client had invested in the plaintiff company more than 25 years prior to the litigation, and was the plaintiff’s largest minority shareholder. The case began when our client exercised its contractual right to compel the plaintiff’s IPO so it could finally liquidate its investment. The plaintiff retaliated by accusing a firm partner who had exercised his stock options of breach of contract, conversion, and fraud. After successfully getting the case moved from Orange County to San Mateo, we battled with the plaintiff over the sufficiency of its pleadings and defeated a succession of attempts by the plaintiff to uncover in discovery our clients’ confidential and irrelevant business strategies concerning its investment. Ultimately, despite repeated efforts by the plaintiff to expand and delay the litigation, we convinced the San Mateo Superior Court to grant our clients’ motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

United States v. Investment Banker: We defended a former Silicon Valley investment banker on obstruction of justice charges. After two trials and a successful appeal, all charges were deferred. Related charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Association of Securities Dealers were also dismissed.

Plaintiffs v. Credit Card Processor: We defended a national credit card processor in class action litigation related to alleged Section 17200 and other consumer protection violations. We showed that a forum selection clause in the merchant agreements precluded this type of complaint from being filed in the Northern District of California, thereby securing a dismissal and terminating the litigation.

Mortgage Fraud Cases: We represent a national lender in various state and federal court litigations regarding mortgage fraud-related claims, both as plaintiff and as defendant. We have obtained numerous favorable rulings for the lender regarding cutting-edge, mortgage fraud-related issues, including favorable rulings on the scope of federal lending statutes such as RESPA, TILA, and federal preemption of state causes of action.

Key Contacts

Elliot R. Peters

Elliot R. Peters

(415) 676-2273
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Stuart Gasner

Stuart Gasner

(415) 676-2209
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Michael D. Celio

Michael D. Celio

(415) 773-6613
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Rachael E. Meny

Rachael E. Meny

(415) 676-2245
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