SEC filed more than 800 enforcement actions in fiscal 2015

By Neil Amato

The SEC filed more than 800 enforcement actions and obtained orders totaling about $4.2 billion in disgorgement and penalties in the 2015 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

There were 807 actions filed during the fiscal year, the commission said Thursday. Of them, a record 507 were independent actions for violations of federal securities laws—up 23% compared with the previous year.

The remaining 300 actions were either against issuers who were delinquent in making required filings to the SEC or administrative proceedings seeking bars against individuals based on criminal convictions, civil injunctions, or other orders, according to an SEC news release.

In fiscal 2013, there were 676 enforcement actions, followed by 755 in fiscal 2014. The amount of disgorgement and penalties has grown from $3.1 billion in fiscal 2012 to $4.2 billion for the 2015 fiscal year.

The SEC’s enforcement approach holds companies and executives accountable by sending clear warnings to would-be violators, SEC Chair Mary Jo White said in a news release. “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,” she said.

Financial reporting remained a key enforcement priority this year, the SEC said. Other areas of focus included ensuring exchanges, traders, and other market participants operate fairly; rooting out insider and abusive trading schemes through data; and fighting market manipulation and microcap fraud.

Andrew Ceresney, director of the Enforcement Division, said the division’s work helped to bring “a significant number of high-impact, first-of-their-kind actions.”

Neil Amato (namato@aicpa.org) is a JofA senior editor.

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