The Nasdaq halts trading in 'blockchain' company Longfin after the SEC accused executives of selling $27 million in restricted shares (LFIN)

Longfin CEO

  • Longfin, a 1-year-old fintech company, is under fire following SEC allegations that its CEO and his associates sold $27 million in restricted company stock.
  • On Friday, the SEC obtained a court order to freeze the $27 million in question. 
  • NASDAQ halted trading for Longfin, which went public in December, following the court order.
  • Longfin first made waves in December when its “pivot to blockchain” sent share prices up more than 2,400%.

It’s been a tough week for Longfin, the one-year-old company that raised eyebrows in December 2017 when its so-called pivot to blockchain sent shares soaring on the day of its initial public offering.

Trading in Longfin shares was halted by Nasdaq on Friday following news that the Security and Exchange Commission obtained a court order to freeze more than $27 million in trading proceeds that the agency believes the CEO and several associates gained by selling unauthorized stock in the company. 

According to the complaint, Longfin CEO and controlling shareholder Venkata Meenavalli issued more than 2 million unregistered and restricted shares to Andy Altahawi, the corporate secretary and director of Longfin.

He also allegedly released tens of thousands of restricted shares to two other individuals, Dorababu Penumarthi and Suresh Tammineedi, who “illegally sold large blocks of their restricted Longfin shares to the public while the stock price was highly elevated,” the SEC alleges.

In a statement issued late Friday, Longfin said it plans to cooperate with the SEC investigation and comply with NASDAQ’s request for information. 

The news comes as authorities are cracking down on shady operations and fraud within the booming blockchain and ICO market, and the allegations of the Longfin stock sales are likely to further damage investor confidence in the nascent market.

Longfin’s took off like a rocket and then plunged 

Longfin first incorporated in February 2017 as a self-described financial technology company, according to company filings. Longfin’s “core technology platform,” as it describes it, connects “global exchanges” and uses “artificial intelligence and deep machine learning to trade and hedge the risk in continuous time.”

Longfin stock

The company gained attention in December as one of the first companies to leverage bitcoin mania to skyrocket its company value. This pivot which came just days before the most infamous case of the Long Island Iced Tea company, which saved itself from getting kicked off the NASDAQ by changing its name to Long Island Blockchain, which propped up its slouching market cap. 

Longfin listed on the NASDAQ on December 13 — seven months after it first launched — and raised $5.7 million thanks to a provision in the Jump Start Our Business Startups Act of 2012, which lowered the barrier for young companies to join the public markets. 

Just two days before listing, the company acquired Ziddu.com, a startup which claimed to develop blockchain smart contracts for financial institutions. Longfin shares soared 2,400% in the early days of trading. 

Longfin’s price has been tumultuous since that first week of trading, when shares spiked from an initial price of $5, to a high over $72. The share price hung around the $35 mark for a few months before spiking back up to $71 on March 23. By April 3, once the SEC’s investigation was revealed, the stock crashed down to $9. 

Although Longfin described itslef as a blockchain company, details of its actual business and product remain unclear.

From February to December 31, 2017, the company claimed $75 million in revenue — $66 million of which came from “physical commodity contracts,” according to company filings. The company doesn’t make clear what these physical commodities entail.

In the same period, the company saw net losses of $26.37 million. 

SEE ALSO: The SEC is accusing a startup founder of stealing $48 million from investors to fund private jets and a dairy cow farm

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Daniel Henney Says 'No One Is Going to Be Able to Predict' the 'Criminal Minds' Season Finale Twist – BuddyTV (blog)

Last season, Criminal Minds ended with most of the team’s lives hanging in the balance. If you thought that the CBS drama would give you a break this year, you’d be wrong. Be prepared for a crazy finale.

Read on for part 2 of BuddyTV’s interview with Daniel Henney as he teases the finale cliffhanger and case and discusses why it was a lot easier for Simmons to join the BAU than, say, Luke “New Guy” Alvez.

Criminal Minds: Could the BAU Have Done Anything to Prevent Barnes from Splitting up the Team?>>>

We didn’t see an adjustment period for Simmons because of the circumstances under which he joined the BAU and his experience with the IRT. Do you think that helped him not be the “new guy” like Luke was?

“I think so, and I think it also helped that he was very familiar with the family. In 2015, we did the embedded pilot for Beyond Borders, where Simmons spoke a lot with Shemar’s character [Morgan] about their paths, so they’ve known each other. He was also close with Rossi’s character. And then, of course, Alana [De La Garza] and I came over last season to lend a hand to Reid in his situation in the prison in Mexico. So, there’s a lot of connective tissue there, and that always helps.

“And I think yeah, his training, him wanting to probably stop traveling as much as he was with the IRT was very helpful. I think Matt’s just, he’s a team player, he wants to contribute, and that’s just like me as an actor. We, like I said, we came together seamlessly, and it’s just very much a family.”

And it probably helped that Garcia was very welcoming, too, and didn’t give him a nickname.

“Garcia’s amazing. I loved how the first episode, they brought Matt and her together and how she needed help and she was kind of left on an island there, back at the BAU while everyone was going through this chaos and Matt came in to help her. I thought that was a really smart way to bring him in, because that’s who he is. He’s a protector and he’s someone who’s very comforting, and he’s a solid guy. But it also helps when Penelope’s very open and sweet to him, and they have a great back-and-forth, those two.”

Simmons more than anyone knew what Barnes was capable of permanently doing to the team. Do you think there was there anything she could have said or done that would’ve changed his mind about her?

“Well, I don’t think so because, to be honest with you, what happened to the IRT last season, if you watched, was pretty intense, and not only was it out of nowhere, but she was trying to pin our team against each other. These teams, they travel the world together. The BAU, they’ve been together for so long, they know each other in and out, and they’d die for each other. When someone comes in and tries to be a puppeteer and try to turn us against each other, there’s no real way to come back from that. I think in Simmons’ mind, she’s pretty much a bad egg.”

Criminal Minds Season 13 Spoilers: Garcia’s Family, an Agent’s Bizarre Story and a Finale Cliffhanger>>>

What can you tease about the season finale’s case and the cliffhanger? Should we expect as many lives to be in danger as last season’s car crash?

“I don’t want to give away too much. There’s definitely a cliffhanger. … There’s some psychological elements to it that’s going to play with our fans’ minds, and there are two very, very important characters that are in the mix. I don’t want to give too much more away, but there will be some questions that arise.”

Can you say anything about this former FBI special agent, Owen Quinn, with the bizarre account?

“I can’t say much. He worked in a different department than the BAU. … He’s got himself in a situation, a very, very, intense situation, and we stumble across that situation and we start to put the puzzle pieces together and find out that he is involved in something very sticky and very heavy that not even his department fully knew about and that brings us together with that department, and we try to figure out what’s going on. But there’s a big flip twist turn, like Garcia would say, that no one is going to be able to predict.”

If Simmons could bring one person or one thing with him from the IRT, who or what would it be?

“I can’t say people because I’d bring my whole team, definitely my whole team. But one thing, if I could bring it, would’ve been our jet. Because the BAU jet is so small.”

That jet was amazing.

“I know. Our jet, it was our whole set actually, for the IRT. It was huge, and it was to scale. It was functional. I believe it was a C-5 cargo jet. I would’ve loved to bring that jet and I wouldn’t mind bringing my motorcycle too. I miss that.”

Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

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Chickening out on criminal justice reform – bestofneworleans.com

click to enlargeCREATIVE COMMONS/NEIL CONWAY

  • CREATIVE COMMONS/NEIL CONWAY

Criminal justice reform was among the few bright spots in last year’s dispiriting legislative session. Lawmakers adopted far-reaching laws that traded “tough on crime” grandstanding for “smart on crime” policies that have been proven to work.

The Justice Reinvestment Task Force, a nonpartisan coalition of conservatives, liberals, clergy, judges, law enforcement, business people and civic leaders, spent a year developing legislation that streamlined Louisiana’s hodgepodge sentencing laws. The reforms were enacted with broad bipartisan support.

Many leading Republicans supported — and still support — criminal justice reform. A handful of ambitious demagogues are now attacking it with lies and scare tactics, not because they care about public safety (the reforms actually promote public safety) but because they hope to grab cheap headlines and run for another office. U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who can’t seem to stop running for something, is the most glaring (and shameless) example.

What’s particularly shameful is the timing of their efforts — the reform package took effect only months ago.

For decades, Louisiana lawmakers were intoxicated with the notion of locking up criminals. Now we spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year jailing nonviolent offenders, yet our crime rate remains high.

There are other costs. Eventually, the vast majority of offenders get released. And when they get back on the street, guess what? Many of them carry a lot of anger, frustration and hopelessness, especially if there’s nothing waiting for them in the way of opportunities. The results are predictable, and measurable.

No other state addresses crime like Louisiana. Our state leads the world in incarceration rates and has a ridiculously high recidivism rate. The two are related. That’s why last year’s reforms were so groundbreaking, and why efforts to roll back those gains this year, before the reforms have had a chance to bear fruit, are so disappointing.

The worst example is House Bill 195 by Rep. Sherman Mack, R-Albany, who chairs the House Criminal Justice Committee. Mack’s HB 195, brought at the behest of district attorneys, guts one of the most crucial reforms, the one reducing the maximum probation time from five years to three.

Mack’s bill doesn’t just roll back the reform; it replaces it with a system that’s even worse than the old one. Specifically, it would reinstate the five-year maximum and force probation officers to spend endless hours writing reports and sitting in courtrooms, to little effect.

If the reforms enacted last year are given a chance to work, they will redirect millions of dollars toward reducing the number of offenders assigned to each probation officer. Lower caseloads lead to better results by lowering recidivism, which improves public safety.

“Probation officers are now just starting to see their high workloads begin to go down, which is a very positive thing,” says Rep. Joe Marino of Gretna, a criminal lawyer who shepherded most of the reform measures last year. “Now some legislators want to reverse course and pile on — without giving the reforms a chance to work.”

This is not the time for lawmakers to chicken out on criminal justice reform. If they do, the chickens will come home to roost among their constituents — and soon.

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The CEO of one of Oracle's rivals has been sentenced to 2 years of prison — and Oracle is 'pleased' (ORCL)

Larry Ellison

  • For the first time, one of Oracle’s intellectual property lawsuits has led to a jail sentence for its rival.
  • Bernd Appleby, the co-owner and CEO of a company called Terix Computer Company, has been sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine as part of a years-long battle with database giant Oracle.
  • Appleby and other Terix execs pled guilty in August 2017 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in this case and were sentenced this week.

Bernd Appleby, the co-owner and CEO of a company called Terix Computer Company, has been sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine as part of a years-long battle with database giant Oracle.

Terix is a company that makes its money offering technical support on products from a long list of big tech companies, including IBM, Cisco, HP, Dell and Oracle.

In addition to Appleby, the company’s COO, director of sales, and director of technical services are also being fined and sentenced to either jail time or probation.

These are the first executives to ever be sentenced to prison as a result of intellectual property litigation with Oracle.

Appleby and other Terix execs pled guilty in August 2017 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in this case.

This isn’t the only third-party technical support company Oracle has sued, but it the first time the CEO of such a company wound up with jail time.

The only other criminal case of this type with Oracle was when an SAP subsidiary called TomorrowNow pled guilty to criminal charges. TomorrowNow was a third-party support company SAP acquired, and while criminal charges were filed against the company, no one ended up going to jail. 

Oracle is particularly litigious when it comes to third-party support companies. Oracle makes most of its money selling its own technical support contracts, although one day, in the future, that may change as it moves more of its customers to its cloud.

In the meantime, companies like Terix allow businesses to skip Oracle’s support contracts, buying their support elsewhere.

How do they get the goods?

At issue is how these third-party companies obtain Oracle’s software in order to provide the support, patches, and updates to their customers. 

According to court documents, these execs set up “three fake companies … using bogus email addresses and addresses, pre-paid telephones and pre-paid credit cards,” the District Attorney’s office said in a press release. They used those companies to buy Oracle support contracts and gain access to Oracle’s support computer systems, the DA charged.

Then they allegedly downloaded patches and updates from those servers and used those downloaded items to provide patches and support to some 500 of customers of its own, the DA said. 

All told, the DA says that Terix took $10 million worth of Oracle’s intellectual property.

U.S. Attorney Glassman slammed Terix CEO Appleby in his statement, saying, “he designed the conspiracy and its evolution over almost 10 years, and understood and directed all aspects of the criminal activity. As the scheme was uncovered, he instructed other company employees to devise ways to avoid detection.”

Oracle has been suing Terix for years. In 2015, a judge ruled in favor of Oracle and ordered Terix to pay Oracle a $57 million fine. Oracle also sued Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2016 for allegedly partnering with Terix, and that suit is still in the courts. 

In June, 2016, Oracle sued Terix again, alleging that its top executives transferred assets to a new company called TUSA in order to avoid paying the fine.

Mike Halverson, vice president of sales at Terix, tells Business Insider that today’s Terix is not associated with the one ordered to pay the fine, it is merely doing business as (dba), under the same name.

“We are not associated with TERiX Computer Company, Inc. (TCCI), the company referenced in the article [the DA’s press release]. That company no longer operates. We are TUSA, Inc., dba Terix, and we purchased portions of the assets in February 2016,” he said, adding, that the criminal case “is a personal matter” of the people involved “and not associated with our entity.”

It is unclear who the current owner and/or CEO of Terix is. The names of the company’s top executives are not listed on the website.

Oracle is ‘pleased’

Meanwhile, Oracle is doing a victory dance over this sentencing.

“Oracle is pleased that the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio accepted the guilty pleas of James Olding and Bernd Appleby, the principals of Terix, for their roles in misappropriating Oracle’s intellectual property and sentenced them both to prison for their criminal acts,” says Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger.

“Oracle takes violations of its intellectual property rights very seriously and, as demonstrated by Oracle’s lawsuits against Terix, Rimini Street and other IP violators, Oracle will not hesitate to go after those who do so. Oracle appreciates the fine work of the law enforcement officials whose efforts led to the criminal penalties assessed against Terix’s principals,” she said.

SEE ALSO: The family of a deceased early Salesforce investor discovered they still owned the shares — and they’re worth a fortune

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'Criminal Minds' Made the Right Decision with Kristy's Life in 'Ex Parte' – BuddyTV (blog)

Putting a loved one in danger (and killing him or her off) on a procedural drama is a common (and easy) move, and it’s a good thing that Criminal Minds chose not to go that route with Kristy Simmons in “Ex Parte.”

Not only would her death have happened in a similar way as another team member’s significant other’s, but this episode also showed why her and Matt’s relationship is one that deserves to be highlighted (not in a tragic way) and showed that she’s not a damsel in distress and is instead a character we should see more of in the future. She’s already been in significant danger once. Let’s not do it again.

Haven’t We Seen (and Heard) This Before?

The 100th episode of the series saw the team rushing to save Haley from The Reaper, but they (including her ex-husband, Hotch) were too late and could only listen as she was shot and killed.

In “Ex Parte,” Kristy’s smart moves to help the team ultimately lead to the UnSub dragging her off and putting her in front of the camera to be the next hostage he shot and killed, and while he didn’t know who was watching (or that she’s the wife of one of the agents on the case), the similarities are there. Killing her off in that moment would have meant the team once again being helpless to do anything while one of their own lost a family member.

We’ve also already seen an agent have to get the hang of being a single father. That’s another storyline we don’t need to repeat. Yes, procedurals can sometimes get predictable and repetitive, but this is not an instance where Criminal Minds should be.

Let’s Cross Ways to Kill Kristy off the List

Not only did we not need to see another loved one killed off in a way that’s comparable to a previous character’s death, but we also don’t need to see a family member in danger because of an agent’s job or a case again. That rules out having her taken or killed because of a future case of the BAU’s (or even a past case of Matt’s), so let’s not have a new Reaper or Mr. Scratch surface who decides to target Kristy.

What I did like about “Ex Parte” is that Kristy wasn’t in danger because of who Matt is or even the BAU. It wasn’t even about who she is. It was about the law firm where she’d just started working. Her job has already put her in significant danger once. We don’t need to see that happen again, only with a tragic ending.

Besides, her job putting her in danger is obviously very, very rare. Simmons mentioned that he and Kristy have a plan for the kids in place in case something happens — but to him, not her. They never planned for their roles to be reversed (though it’s possible that changes after what just happened.) 

Criminal Minds Interview: Daniel Henney on His ‘Seamless’ Transition from Beyond Borders and More>>>

She’s the Brains, He’s the Brawn (and Brains)

“Ex Parte” highlighted Matt and Kristy’s relationship, with their conversations at home that bookended the episode, showing them enjoying bits of normalcy (he didn’t want to upgrade his phone, but when he decided to after the new one saved her life, she said that meant that she was right) and even their interaction at the law firm. Once he got the upper hand with the UnSub who had had a gun to his wife and had him in a chokehold, Kristy was the one to remind him who he was, so he threw the man to the side for the FBI to take into custody.

While some of the hostages were happy to just sit around and wait (or failed to trick the UnSub), Kristy managed to hide her bag with Matt’s new phone inside and then get to it to call 911. She even set it up for the BAU to have eyes on the inside (allowing them to identify the UnSubs) and wisely took one of the wireless earbuds, so she could hear the team. That move of hers helped save her life, as Tara was able to coach her through talking to the UnSub just as he was about to kill her, to distract him just enough.

What we saw from Kristy in this episode was enough to make me want so see more of her. It would’ve been a shame to kill her off just as we started to get to know her.

What do you think? Are you happy that Kristy survived “Ex Parte”? Do you want to see more of her in the future?

Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

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Is your lawyer a crook? The California State Bar may soon let you know – The Mercury News

SAN JOSE — What do you call up to 10 percent of lawyers in California?

Convicted criminals.

And that’s no rotten-lawyer joke.

That’s the eye-popping new estimate by the agency that licenses them.

Of California’s 190,000 active attorneys, as many as 19,000 may have unreported criminal activity, from DUIs to more serious offenses, according to the State Bar of California.

For the first time in California, all active lawyers will have to submit to having their fingerprints live-scanned or taken the old-fashioned way rby April 30 of next year under the plan the state Supreme Court is expected to approve in the coming weeks. The prints will be fed into the state Department of Justice’s database, and previous convictions will be reported to the Bar — as well as all future arrests.

“If you have an attorney convicted, let’s say of fraud, you would want to know it,” said Leah T. Wilson, the Bar’s executive director, adding that the proposal evolved as Bar starts to “pay more attention to our public protection mission.”

For years, the Bar had been counting on attorneys to do the ethical thing and self-report convictions. But here’s how that worked out: During a three-year period recently, at least 32 attorneys were convicted of a felony statewide, according to information the Bar obtained from court records.

But only three lawyers came clean with the Bar.

Bar officials are still exploring exactly how much they will be able to tell the public about what they learn. Currently, consumers can look up profiles of licensed lawyers online to learn such information as where lawyers were educated and whether they are in good standing. In the future, the Bar may also post “conviction alerts.”

Even if convictions don’t end up being posted online, lawyers could be disciplined by the Bar, either for failing to report a conviction to the licensing agency, or for the conviction itself, or for both. The Bar will decide on a case-by-case basis.

Not surprisingly, the Bar was flooded with thousands of negative comments from lawyers about the fingerprinting proposal. The estimate of lawyers with possible convictions, announced in a news release issued by the Bar, is based on the percentage of scofflaws the agency that licenses doctors discovered; of course, it could be lower or even higher for lawyers.

“Let’s say a lawyer picks up a DUI decades ago,” said Michael Cardoza, a high-powered defense attorney and former prosecutor based in Walnut Creek. “Does that make them a bad lawyer? No. All you’re doing is embarrassing them.”

Attorney Michael Cardoza representing both former Oakland police officer Giovanni LoVerde and Oakland police officer Ryan Walterhouse addresses the news media following arraignment hearings by both his clients at the Hayward Hall of Justice in Hayward, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Both officers pleaded not guilty to their charges. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)
Attorney Michael Cardoza questions the value of fingerprinting bar members. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

The Bar is drawing up a system that will help officials decide how to prioritize conviction cases, with an eye to how much each case impacts the public, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Farmer.

Another East Bay lawyer, Dan O’Malley, said that if Little League coaches have to be fingerprinted, so should lawyers.

“I’m not offended by it,” said O’Malley, a former Superior Court judge. “If you’re a lawyer, you have to hold yourself up to a higher standard.”

Bar officials pointed out that other state regulatory agencies require their members be fingerprinted, including veterinarians, acupuncturists, podiatrists and accountants.

As part of the Bar’s transition from a clubby organization to a watchdog, lawyers who don’t get fingerprinted by Dec. 1, 2019, will be suspended.

Lawyers will pay an average of $82 to cover the cost of the background checks by the state DOJ and the FBI, and for the actual fingerprinting. Those live-scans can be done at local outlets, including UPS stores, but big firms are expected to contract out for it to be done at their offices.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe poses for a portrait at the Hall of Justice in Redwood City, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 18, 2009. Wagstaffe is running for district attorney after more than three decades working in the district attorneys office. (John Green/Staff)
San Mateo County DA Steve Wagstaffe supports the fingerprinting plan. (Photo by John Green/Bay Area News Group archives) 

The Bar has long fingerprinted new lawyers as part of a background check before admitting them. But most of the prints over the years were kept on white 3-by-5 cards, the executive director said, and discarded after three years.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said it’s time for attorneys to step up.

“It’ll be good to have a better level of accountability,” he said.

However, Lafayette-based criminal defense attorney Dan Horowitz argues that attorneys could become the next wave of victims whose fingerprints are mistakenly linked to crimes they didn’t commit — just like some of their clients.

“They’re going to get a bunch of false hits,” he said. “The database is not fool-proof.”

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