In early February 2017, acting SEC Chair Michael Piwowar revoked the subpoena authority from approximately 20 senior SEC enforcement staff. The change leaves the Director of the Division of Enforcement as the sole person with the authority to approve a formal order of investigation and issue subpoenas. Historically, the staff did not have subpoena power; however, in 2009 then Chair Mary Shapiro granted the staff the power, in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal. Chair Shapiro deemed the policy to relate solely to internal SEC procedures and, as such, passed the delegation of power without formal notice or opportunity for public comment.
This is the beginning of what I expect will be many, many changes within the SEC as the new administration changes the focus of the agency from Mary Jo White’s broken windows policies to supporting capital formation. The mission of the SEC is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets and facilitate capital formation. Although
The SEC has completed the first annual adjustment for inflation of the maximum civil monetary penalties administered under the SEC. The inflation adjustment was mandated by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015, which requires all federal agencies to make an annual adjustment to civil penalties.
The SEC adjusted civil penalties that can be imposed under the Securities Act of 1933, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Investment Company Act of 1040, Investment Advisors Act of 1940 and Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 civil penalties are those imposed by the PCAOB in disciplinary proceedings against its accountant members.
The penalty increase applies to civil monetary penalties (“CMP”). A CMP is defined as “any penalty, fine, or other sanction that: (1) is for a specific amount, or has the maximum amount, as provided by federal law; and (2) is assessed or enforced by an agency in an administrative proceeding or by a federal court
SEC Chair Mary Jo White gave a speech at the annual mid-February SEC Speaks program and, as usual, gave some insight into the SEC’s focus in the coming year. This blog summarized Chair White’s speech and provides further insight and information on the topics she addresses.
Consistent with her prior messages, Chair White focuses on enforcement, stating that the SEC “needs to go beyond disclosure” in carrying out its mission. That mission, as articulated by Chair White, is the protection of investors, maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation. In 2015 the SEC brought a record number of enforcement proceedings and secured an all-time high for penalty and disgorgement orders. The primary areas of focus included cybersecurity, market structure requirements, dark pools, microcap fraud, financial reporting failures, insider trading, disclosure deficiencies in municipal offerings and protection of retail investors and retiree savings. In 2016 the SEC intends to focus enforcement on financial reporting, market structure, and the
On June 5, 2014, Mary Jo White gave a speech at a conference on the topic of the structure of equity markets, the entire text of which is available on sec. gov. The speech was very high-level and broad-based with few specific initiative announcements. However, it does provide some insight into the direction of planned market structure initiatives and rule releases. This blog is a summary of her speech.
Ms. White began her speech by acknowledging that the SEC agrees with the basic premise that “investors and public companies benefit greatly from robust and resilient equity markets.”
Ms. White announced that she is recommending additional measures to “further promote market stability and fairness, enhance market transparency and disclosures, and build more effective markets for smaller companies.” In addition, she will request that the SEC create a new Market Structure Advisory Committee of experts to review specific initiatives and rule proposals.
Current Market Structure
As noted in Ms. White’s speech, today’s