Reputational Penalties and the Merits of Class-Action Securities Litigation
If private securities class actions alleging fraudulent behavior by officers or directors of a company are meritorious, directors and officers should pay a reputational penalty when they sit on a board of a company whose officers and directors are accused of fraud. I find little evidence of a negative effect associated with allegations of fraud. Using various definitions of board positions as a proxy for the reputation of directors who are accused of fraud, I find that the net number of board positions is consistently increased. Only in shareholder class actions in the top quartile of settlements or in which the Securities and Exchange Commission has initiated a case do directors appear to suffer a reputational penalty when a board they serve on is accused of fraud. The results call into question the merits of private securities class actions.
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