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Sean D. Reyes
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AG Reyes Leads Amicus Challenging SEC Stock Reporting Requirements

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Today, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes led a coalition of States in filing an amicus brief in U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. SEC. The coalition of attorneys general filed the brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in support of the U.S. Chamber’s challenge to the SEC’s recent rule imposing burdensome new disclosure requirements for stock buybacks.

Stock buybacks are an essential way companies return excess cash to shareholders. Research has found that buybacks save investors hundreds of millions annually by stabilizing prices and reducing risk. The SEC’s Final Rule will make buybacks less attractive by forcing companies that engage in buybacks to publicly disclose their strategy and reasoning behind their buyback decisions—which may provide competitors with critical insights or fodder for lawsuits. As a result, investors will be adversely affected and companies will be unable to put their capital to the best use possible. In particular, it will harm the millions of Americans who have invested their retirement funds in the stock market.

General Reyes issued the following statement: “We are leading this coalition of states in opposition to the SEC buyback rule because the federal government again overreaches with a shortsighted and misguided policy. This rule will have severe consequences not only for investors and companies, but for everyday Americans and retirement account holders. We applaud the advocacy of the U.S. Chamber in this matter and join with it in standing up for the people of America.”

The amicus brief points out that the SEC itself acknowledged the added risks the Final Rule will impose on buyback programs. And the result of those added risks will be a reduction in such programs as companies seek other options. Because buybacks benefit investors and the public at large, the overall effect will be reduced value for investors and a less productive economy for all Americans.

Joining Utah on this brief are the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the amicus brief here.

Attorney General Sean Reyes Announces Bliss Sentencing After Joint Investigation with FBI

SALT LAKE CITY Feb. 26, 2016 – Less than a year after his arrest for charges related to a Ponzi scheme, Roger S. Bliss of Bountiful, Utah was sentenced to a minimum of four years in prison by Third District Court Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills. The Office of the Attorney General’s Mortgage and Financial Fraud Unit led a team investigating Bliss that included the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also conducted a parallel civil investigation. Attorney General Sean Reyes praised the attorneys that prosecuted the case, as well as the collaboration with federal agencies.

“The prosecution of white-collar crimes and protection of Utah consumers is among the highest priorities for our office. I made that commitment to Utahns and I will continue keeping that promise with every white collar criminal we convict,” said Attorney General Reyes. “The devastation wrought upon the lives of victims breaks my heart and reinforces our commitment to aggressively pursue fraudsters and scammers continuously. The perpetrator in this case will be listed on our fraud registry.

“Our attorneys, investigators, paralegals and staff work tirelessly to protect Utah consumers and put an end to Ponzi schemes like this one. This case also demonstrates the excellent interagency collaboration with our partners, the FBI and the SEC. This is truly a tremendous outcome for citizens in Utah; not only for the victims in this case but to deter future frauds and scams by sending a clear message that Utah is not a place to cheat your friends and neighbors.”

“We congratulate the Utah Attorney’s General’s Office on the conviction and sentencing, and we look forward to proceeding with our civil action,” Richard Best, Regional Director of the Salt Lake Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Upon sentencing, Bliss was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his sentence. He had previously pleaded guilty on December 11, 2015, to four counts of Securities Fraud and one count of Pattern of Unlawful Activity, all of which are Second Degree felonies.

Bliss was also convicted for the crimes of Obstruction of Justice and False Declaration Before a Court of the United States, committed in connection with the civil case filed by the SEC. That case was filed and prosecuted in Utah Federal District Court by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah. Judge Nuffer sentenced Bliss to 12 months in federal prison, with the sentence to run consecutive to the prison time he received from the State of Utah. The civil case filed by the SEC is still ongoing.

The investigation by the Office of the Utah Attorney General and the FBI into Bliss’ Ponzi scheme began in January of 2015 and culminated when he was charged in Third District Court in July 2015 after it was discovered that Bliss solicited funds from potential investors, claiming he would generate returns of over 100% annually by trading Apple stock. Bliss told potential investors that he had never had a losing day trading stock, promising to split earnings with investors 50/50, and between 2013 and 2015 over one hundred people invested funds with him. The investigation revealed that Bliss lost over $3 million trading during this time, spending approximately $4 million of the invested funds on personal expenses for himself and his family. Bliss used new investor funds to pay purported returns to earlier investors. Total losses for the scheme exceeded $20 million.

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