Photo of Ghillaine Reid

Ghillaine co-leads the Securities Investigations + Enforcement Practice Group at Troutman Pepper. She focuses her practice on government and securities regulatory investigations, financial services litigation, commercial litigation, and corporate compliance. Drawing on her experience in government service and private practice, Ghillaine regularly represents corporations and individuals in investigations conducted by the Securities & Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and other government and regulatory agencies. Ghillaine has successfully defended several high profile SEC investigations and enforcement proceedings involving a wide range of significant issues, including insider trading, accounting fraud, market manipulation, and broker-dealer sales practice violations. Prior to entering private practice, Ghillaine was a Branch Chief and Staff Attorney in the New York Regional Office of the Securities & Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement, where she investigated and litigated a wide range of securities enforcement matters.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) Enforcement Division recently announced its first settlement involving a firm’s supervision of social media influencers. The respondent, M1 Finance LLC (M1), is a financial technology company that provides self-directed trading to retail investors through its mobile application and website. In connection with FINRA’s targeted exam of M1’s use of social media influencers to acquire new customers, FINRA found that social media posts made by influencers on the firm’s behalf were not fair or balanced, or contained exaggerated, unwarranted, promissory, or misleading claims. According to FINRA, M1 also failed to establish, maintain, and enforce a reasonably designed supervisory system for its influencers’ social media posts, and failed to preapprove and preserve records of these retail communications.

On April 4, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a stay on the implementation of its newly enacted climate impact disclosure rules. This decision is connected to a challenge to the rules currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which is a consolidation of numerous lawsuits that hit the SEC following the rule announcement on March 6. The SEC adopted a scaled-back version of its initial 2022 proposal, requiring large public companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions, climate-related risks to their businesses, and the financial harm caused by extreme weather events, in their registration statements and annual reports. The reporting requirements were to be rolled out in stages, with the largest filers beginning disclosures in 2025.

It was a busy year for enforcement activity in the cyber, crypto, SPAC, and whistleblower spaces, with several pending actions that will likely have wide-ranging implications in 2024. We are also awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that could alter the landscape on administrative law proceedings. From the SEC’s release of expansive cybersecurity rules to the largest whistleblower award ever issued, 2023 had plenty of exciting developments. A detailed summary of key developments by category can be found below.