Sunday, April 4, 2010

Three brief items

1. Mutterings after Stern Hu Gets Hard Time

Australia's foreign minister, Stephen Smith, says that Stern Hu's sentence is harsh, and that part of the trial took place behind closed doors, in defiance it appears of the Sino-Australian consular agreement.

"Because we have had no access to that part of the trial, there are I think serious, unanswered questions which international business community will want to continue to pursue with China." For more on the diplomatic fall-out from the Rio Tinto case, go here.

2. Supreme Court on Foreign-Cubed Securities Fraud Actions.

What are called "foreign cubed" actions are those brought in the courts of the US by a foreign party, against another foreign party, and based upon securities issued in a foreign country. So what is the connection with the US?

In the case of Morrison v. National Australian Bank, the foreign country is -- as you've probably just guessed -- Australia. Investors in that country bought securities issued by a bank in that country and traded on an exchange there. But in 1998 that bank purchased a US based mortgage company, HoimeSide Lending, and the investors complain of shenanigans Australian investors in NAB complain that NAB's treatmnent of that mortgage unit thereafter.

On March 29, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in this case, considering whether the federal courts of the US ought to be considering the question of whteher NAB violated section 10(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934.

3. Richard Grubman back in the news.

I have to note this mug shot. That's Richard Grubman, who was arrested and released on his own recognizance after an altercation with the valet at the parking garage of a fancy-schmansy hotal. Grubman is due back in Boston Municipal Court on April 30 for a pretrial conference.

Grubman is one of the principals of a prominent hedge fund. His previous "15 minutes of fame" arrived back in 2001. In a now-infamous conference call, Grubman pressed Enron's Jeffrey Skiling about why Enron had not submitted a balance sheet with its 10k. Skilling responded, "Thank you very much ... asshole." The moment became emblematic of Enron's troubles -- executives of large cap companies are generally expected to put their best foot forward on such conference calls, and not to "lose it" even under provocation!

Anyway, there is now likely one valet who thinks Skilling was right.

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