WASHINGTON, D.C.—Stephen W. Hall, Legal Director and Securities Specialist for Better Markets, released the following statement in advance of tomorrow’s oral argument before the Tenth Circuit in an important market manipulation case, In re: Overstock Securities Litigation, No. 21-4126:
“Our securities markets have proven to be remarkable engines of business growth and wealth generation for many Americans, but to thrive, they depend on investor confidence in their fairness and integrity. Market manipulation schemes that artificially distort prices not only harm innocent investors but also undermine that essential confidence, ultimately threatening the vitality of the markets.
“In the Overstock case, the plaintiffs are alleging that the defendants perpetrated an outrageous market manipulation scheme that caused Overstock’s share price to shoot up and then fall back to earth. Many investors suffered losses while the president of the company, an alleged architect of the scheme, pocketed tens of millions of dollars in gains. The district court in Utah threw the case out based largely on the erroneous notion that to be illegal, market manipulation must involve some sort of misrepresentation or other form of deceit, not just grossly and intentionally distorted prices.
“In February last year, Better Markets, joined by the Consumer Federation of America, filed an amicus brief explaining that the securities laws and rules were written broadly to cover fraud and manipulation as two separate forms of illegal conduct. Although the plaintiffs also allege misrepresentations in this case, our brief focused on the point that manipulation schemes distort share prices and inflict harm on investors regardless of whether they were carried out using lies or deceit. We also highlighted the damaging impact that the district court’s decision will have unless it is reversed. These investors will almost certainly be left without any remedy for their losses, and over the long term, market manipulators will be able to fashion schemes that evade the law but nevertheless wreak havoc in the markets and harm investors.
“Our securities markets are already viewed as unfair and rigged in many ways, and the Tenth Circuit has an opportunity to help protect the fairness of those markets by allowing investors to hold market manipulators of all stripes accountable for the damage they cause. We’ll be listening closely to tomorrow’s oral arguments in this important case.”
Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.