The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continued to increase its enforcement actions and financial penalties for the fiscal year that ended in September, including a record for independent actions.
According to an Oct. 22 announcement, the SEC filed 807 enforcement actions and obtained orders of about $4.2 billion in disgorgement and penalties in fiscal year 2015. Of those, a record 507 were independent actions involving violations of federal securities laws, and 300 were actions against delinquent issuers or administrative proceedings seeking bars against individuals.
Last year, the commission filed 755 enforcement actions and obtained orders of $4.16 billion. Of those actions, 413 were independent and 342 were against delinquent issuers or administrative proceedings seeking bars against individuals.
In fiscal year 2013, the SEC filed 676 actions of which 341 were independent, and the agency obtained orders of $3.4 billion.
âVigorous and comprehensive enforcement protects investors and reassures them that our financial markets operate with integrity and transparency,â SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said in a written statement. âThe commission continues that enforcement approach by bringing innovative cases holding executives and companies accountable for their wrongdoing, sending clear warnings to would-be violators. The Enforcement Division's leveraging of data, quantitative analytics, and the expertise of our other divisions contributed significantly to this year's very strong results.â
The commission cites 10 categories of financial misconduct in its work this year:
- Financial fraud and issuer disclosures.
- Gatekeepers' failure to comply with professional standards.
- Unfair operations by exchanges, traders, and other market participants.
- Insider and abusive trading schemes.
- Investment advisors' and companies' misconduct.
- Market manipulation and microcap fraud.
- International and affinity-based investment frauds.
- Disclosure violations in municipal securities.
- Misconduct in complex financial instruments.
- Foreign corrupt practices.
The SEC also noted that it awarded whistleblowers, succeeded in litigation, and obtained admissions of wrongdoing under the admissions policy.
Links to specific cases in each of the 10 categories are included in the announcement.
About Terry Sheridan
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.