United States v Vilar: new limits on extraterritorial securities enforcement

In United States v Vilar, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has offered another data point in the federal courts’ ongoing efforts to define the extraterritorial reach of the federal securities laws.

Although regulators are expected to argue that Vilar has limited application, the Second Circuit has, in fact, curtailed efforts to extend criminal liability to the extraterritorial purchase or sale of securities.

In Vilar, decided on 30 August, the Second Circuit applied the ‘presumption against extraterritoriality’ to claims of criminal liability under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act. In doing so, the Second Circuit expressly extended the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Morrison v National Australia Bank Ltd — a civil case in which the court barred federal fraud suits by foreign investors over foreign-traded securities — to criminal actions brought by the Department of Justice…

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