Did Kiromic mislead investors about its knowledge of clinical holds prior to conducting a $40 million public offering? Were the former CEO’s credentials fake? Was the company issuing misleading statements at the direction of its former CEO?
This post is open for investors to gather facts, and findings and track their exposure to related lawsuits. We invite investors and shareholders to contribute to this investigation for their own benefit, add events to the factual timeline below and vote on events’ pertinence.
A lawsuit was subsequently filed. We update this post regularly.
Kiromic discloses an internal investigation following complaints by its former chief financial officer (CFO) about potential misleading statements issued to the company’s shareholders by the company and its executives.
“The Board approved certain actions to address the fact that the Company had received communications from the FDA on June 16 and June 17, 2021 that the FDA was placing the Company’s IND applications that the Company submitted to the FDA on May 14 and May 17, 2021 for the ALEXIS-PRO-1 and ALEXIS-ISO-1 product candidates, respectively, on clinical hold (the “June 16 and 17, 2021 FDA Communications”).
On July 13, 2021, the Company received the FDA’s formal clinical hold letters, which asked the Company to address key components regarding the chemical, manufacturing, and control components of the IND applications.
On July 16, 2021 the Company issued a press release disclosing that it had received comments from the FDA on its two INDs, but did not use the term “clinical hold.”
On August 13, 2021, the Company issued a press release announcing that these INDs were placed on clinical hold. The Company did not disclose the June 16 and 17, 2021 FDA Communications in (i) its Registration Statement on Form S-1 (Registration No. 333-257427) that was filed on June 25, 2021 and declared effective on June 29, 2021, nor the final prospectus contained therein dated June 29, 2021 (collectively, the “Registration Statement”); or (ii) its Form 10-Q for its fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2021 that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 13, 2021. The Company consummated a public offering of $40 million of its common stock pursuant to the Registration Statement on July 2, 2021.
In the course of the Internal Review, the Special Committee also identified that Mr. Tontat submitted incorrect information regarding his educational background to the Company. Specifically, although Mr. Tontat represented to the Company that he held a BA in Economics from Harvard University, it was determined that he had actually received an ALB, a degree conferred by the Harvard Extension School. The Company has implemented changes to its vetting process for prospective director and officer candidates including the implementation of thorough background checks to verify background information provided by such candidates.“
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A securities class action lawsuit is a lawsuit on behalf of investors considered in a similar position, who purchased or sold securities of a company during a certain period and suffered losses because of an alleged wrongdoing. Security is often broadly defined to include bonds, stocks, options, derivatives, and other instruments.
Section 10b of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 makes it unlawful to “use or employ, in connection with the purchase or sale of any security” a “manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance in contravention of such rules and regulations as the [SEC] may prescribe.” 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b). It is therefore forbidden to: employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud; make any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made not misleading; or engage in any act, practice, or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person.
Generally, to be successful, the plaintiff must plead the following:
We invite you to read this article from the American Bar Association which, although from 2014, provide ample information to explore the world of class actions brought under section 10b of Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 provides “an express right of action for damages . . . when a registration statement contains untrue statements of material fact or omissions of material fact.” (Thomas Lee Hazen, Treatise on the Law of Securities Regulation, §7.3 at 581 (4th ed. 2002)). Practically, buyers in an initial public offering (IPO), relying on the registration statement and prospectus, are given the right to file a complaint against the company and other signatories for losses sustained as a result of the deficient registration statement and prospectus.
Generally, at least four elements must be plead for the claim to survive:
A shareholder derivative lawsuit is a lawsuit brought by a shareholder of a company, on behalf of the company, against an insider (director, board of directors, executives) or a third-party to redress wrongs and harms to the company. Simply speaking, this mechanism exists because one cannot expect directors and insiders to sue themselves for harms they have done to the company.
The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) of 1995 was enacted to tighten requirements for securities class actions to be brought in the United States. One of the mechanism put in place was a 60-day period, following the filing of the initial securities class action, for any shareholder considered in similar position to the one filing the initial class action complaint, to ask to be named lead plaintiff. Practically, any time a securities class action falling under the PSLRA is filed with a court, law firms advertise their willingness to pursue the case and invite other investors similarly situated to contact them.
The lead plaintiff in a securities class action is a shareholder who suffered losses related to the purchase or sale of a company’s security during a certain period of time, that is appointed with its choice of counsel to represent the rest of the similarly situated shareholders. To be appointed lead plaintiff, you need to contact a law firm, have them examine your losses and agree to be represented by them and ask to make a motion with the court to be appointed lead. The court will then look at all the motions from the different shareholders and make its decision based on a certain set of criteria. Your inability to be lead plaintiff shall not prevent you from any potential recovery in the event of a settlement.
A class period is a set period of time during which the purchasers or sellers of a company’s security claim in a class action lawsuit to have suffered losses. Class periods are based on the merits of the case and may evolve with the litigation.
A class action complaint will define the initial class of investors: the class period and the persons included in the class. You should look at the definition of the class to determine whether you are included or not. However, the class definition will evolve with the litigation. Its definition is very likely to change between the initial complaint filed and the possible settlement. Generally speaking, you should rely on the definitions of the class stated in a stipulation of settlement to determine whether or not you will be entitled to any recovery (see below about the opting-out mechanism).
You may. The mechanism is called opting-out of class. A lead plaintiff will agree on the potential recovery ratio in a settlement. You may have an interest in opting-out of a class if you have sustained large losses and believe bringing a separate lawsuit would entitle you to a larger ratio of recovery.
You may be able to bring a claim to arbitration in certain scenarios. We encourage you to contact a law firm of your choice to inquire about such alternative dispute resolution mechanism.