Webcast – SEC v. Obus: A Case Study On Taking The Government To Trial And Winning

July 22, 2014

​Join Joel M. Cohen and Mary Kay Dunning for a discussion of lessons learned during their recent jury trial victory over the SEC in one of the longest-running insider trading cases in history. Gibson Dunn represented Nelson Obus, a New York-based hedge fund manager, in the SEC’s trial against him and two co-defendants for allegedly trading in the securities of SunSource, Inc. on the basis of material non-public information that the company was about to be sold. The jury’s verdict marks the end of a long fight by Mr. Obus to clear his name. The SEC first subpoenaed Mr. Obus and his co-defendants, as well as his hedge funds, in 2002 and filed the complaint in 2006. Gibson Dunn succeeded in winning summary judgment in the case in 2010, a ruling that was reversed by the Second Circuit two years later. Defendants proceeded to trial in May 2014, and the jury’s unanimous verdict came on May 30, 2014, after just one day of deliberations.

Topics discussed include:

  • The classical and misappropriation theories of insider trading
  • Strategies for defending clients during the SEC investigation phase
  • Exploring case theories during discovery
  • Developing offensive trial themes
  • Countering SEC trial tactics
  • Dealing with old evidence and witness testimony
  • Tippee liability under SEC v. Obus
  • The SEC’s plan to pursue more insider trading actions administratively

View Slides [PDF]


Joel M. Cohen, a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor. From 1992 to 1999, he served as Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, supervising the Business/Securities Fraud Unit, where he received numerous awards from the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies. Mr. Cohen has led or participated in 24 civil and criminal trials in federal and state courts. He is equally comfortable leading confidential investigations, managing crises, or advocating in court proceedings. His experience includes all aspects of FCPA/anticorruption issues, insider trading, securities and financial institution litigation, class actions, sanctions, money laundering and asset recovery, with a particular focus on international disputes and discovery. While in government service, he was the prosecutor of the so-called “Wolf of Wall Street,” was the first U.S. Legal Advisor to the French Ministry to Justice and was an advisor to the OECD in connection with its anti-corruption convention.

Mary Kay Dunning, an associate in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is a member of the Firm’s Litigation Practice. Ms. Dunning’s practice includes securities and complex commercial litigation, white collar defense and investigations, and global anti-corruption matters. She has represented financial institutions and individuals in insider trading investigations and regularly counsels clients regarding compliance with the securities laws. Her practice also includes representing multinational companies in government and internal investigations pursuant to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and she assists clients in drafting FCPA policies and strengthening their anti-bribery compliance programs. Ms. Dunning also has experience in counseling boards of directors of public companies on corporate governance issues, and she has worked on teams that have conducted confidential investigations for boards of directors and privately held companies.