Optima Law Group Blog

2016 SEC Crackdown

2016 proved to be a busy year for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – breaking records for filed enforcement actions in many areas and allocating the most money to whistleblowers in a single year. Accordingly, it is more important than ever to ensure compliance with applicable securities laws when raising capital and engaging in other securities related transactions. 
The results can be attributed to former SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s promise to make big companies and executives as well as minor violators accountable for illegal actions, coupled with new data analytics implemented in 2016 used to uncover fraud.
2016 was also a year of firsts for the SEC as the following violations were never charged before then:
a firm solely for failing to file Suspicious Activity Reports when appropriate 
an audit firm for auditor independence failures predicated on close personal relationships with audit clients 
municipal advisors for violating the fiduciary duty for municipal advisors created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and the municipal advisor antifraud provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act
a private equity adviser for acting as an unregistered broker; and an issuer of retail structured notes for misstatements and omissions
Other areas the SEC focused on in 2016 include:
Combating Financial Fraud and Enhancing Issuer Disclosure
Holding Gatekeepers Accountable
Ensuring Fairness Among Market Participants
Rooting Out Insider Trading Schemes Through Innovative Uses of Data and Analytics
Uncovering Misconduct by Investment Advisers and Investment Companies
Fighting Market Manipulation and Microcap Fraud
Halting International and Affinity-Based Investment Frauds
Policing the Public Finance Markets
Cracking Down on Misconduct Involving Complex Financial Instruments
Combating Foreign Corrupt Practices
Standing Up for Whistleblowers
Demanding Admissions in Important Cases Enhancing Public Accountability
Successful Litigation
With the SEC’s compliance enforcement practices increasing and rigorous prosecution of violators, it is imperative that businesses stay compliant with the ever-changing standards.  
For more information please visit the SEC’s website: https://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2016-212.html