On June 18, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a policy change related to its settlement of certain civil matters. In particular, the SEC has stated that it will now require that the settling party admit wrongdoing as part of a settlement. Previously the standard language for all settlements has been that the defendants “neither admit nor deny wrongdoing.” Defendants, of course, cannot be required to make such an admission or settle a case, but the alternative is fighting it out in court, an expensive and risky process.
The change in policy began with a related change in which the SEC changed its policy to require admissions of wrongdoing to settle cases where the defendant had already admitted such wrongdoing in related criminal cases. Mary Jo White has now announced that, even in cases where there is no parallel criminal case, the SEC will now require individuals and companies to admit liability in “cases where… it’s very important to