SEC Keeps Up Blistering Pace of Enforcements Against Advisors, BDs in 2012

Number of whistleblower tips is also on the rise, with the SEC receiving more than 3,000 this year

More On Legal & Compliance

from The Advisor's Professional Library
  • Risk-Based Oversight of Investment Advisors Even if the SEC had a larger budget and more resources, it is doubtful that the Commission would have the resources to regularly examine all RIAs. Therefore, the SEC is likely to continue relying on risk-based oversight to fulfill its mission of protecting investors.
  • RIAs and Customer Identification Just as RIAs owe a duty to diligently protect their clients’ privacy and guard against theft, firms also play a vital role in customer identification. Although RIAs are not subject to an anti-money laundering rule, securities regulators expect advisors to address these issues in their policies and procedures.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continued to file a record number of enforcement actions against investment advisors this year and increased its pace of actions against broker-dealers.

The SEC filed 147 enforcement actions against advisor and investment companies in 2012, one more than last year’s record number, and the number of actions this year against BDs jumped significantly—with the agency filing 134 enforcement actions related to broker-dealers, a 19% increase over the previous year.

The number of whistleblower tips is also on the rise. The agency announced Thursday in its 2012 Annual Report on the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program that it had received more than 3,000 whistleblower tips from all 50 states and from 49 countries. The report was required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and summarizes the activities of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.

“In just its first year, the whistleblower program already has proven to be a valuable tool in helping us ferret out financial fraud,” said SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro, in a statement.

As to enforcement actions taken in all areas of the SEC’s jurisdiction as of the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the Commission says that building on last year’s record results, it filed 734 enforcement actions, one shy of last year’s record of 735.

Most significantly, the SEC says “that number included an increasing number of cases involving highly complex products, transactions, and practices, including those related to the financial crisis, trading platforms and market structure, and insider trading by market professionals.” Twenty percent of the actions, the agency says, “were filed in investigations designated as National Priority Cases, representing the Division’s most important and complex matters.”

The SEC also announced that it obtained orders in fiscal year 2012 requiring the payment of more than $3 billion in penalties and disgorgement for the benefit of harmed investors, which represents an 11% increase over the amount ordered last year. In the past two years, the SEC says it has obtained orders for $5.9 billion in penalties and disgorgement.

“The record of performance is a testament to the professionalism and perseverance of the staff and the innovative reforms put in place over the past few years,” said Schapiro. “We’ve now brought more enforcement actions in each of the last two years than ever before including some of the most complex cases we’ve ever seen.”

Other areas of enforcement actions taken include financial crisis-related cases, which included 29 separate actions naming 38 individuals, including 24 CEOs, CFOs and other senior corporate officers, regarding wrongdoing related to the financial crisis.

The SEC also filed 17 enforcement actions related to municipal securities, more than double the number filed in 2011. 


Check out last week's enforcement roundup: FINRA Enforcement Roundup: Hudson Valley CEO Barred Over Sneaky Day Trading, Fraud at AdvisorOne.

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.