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Gotcha! SEC Searchable Database Flags Enforcement Records

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The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that it has launched a searchable database that allows investors to find information on brokers and advisors with a judgment or order against them in an enforcement action.

Called the SEC Action Lookup for Individuals, or SALI, the tool is designed to help identify registered and unregistered individuals who have been parties to past SEC enforcement actions and against whom federal courts have entered judgments or the SEC has issued orders, the agency said.

SALI search results currently include parties from SEC actions filed between Oct. 1, 2014, and March 31, 2018.

The SEC states that it plans to update the search feature periodically to add parties from newly filed actions and actions filed prior to Oct. 1, 2014.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said that Main Street investors “are a key line of defense in detecting and preventing fraud. One of the SEC’s most important tasks is to arm our investors with the tools necessary to identify potential fraudsters. An important risk factor is whether the person you are dealing with has a disciplinary history with the SEC or other regulators.”

SALI, he continued, “provides Main Street investors with an additional tool they can use to protect themselves from being victims of fraud and other misconduct.”

Clayton announced last November that the agency planned to create such a website that contains “a searchable database of individuals” who have been barred or suspended as a result of federal securities law violations.

SALI’s results are not limited to registered investment professionals, as with many existing online search functions, the agency states.

Rather, SALI “allows the public to identify individuals who have settled, defaulted or contested an enforcement action brought by the SEC, provided that a final judgment or order was entered against them in a federal court or an administrative proceeding.”

Industry officials, including the former head of enforcement for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, said last year that the SEC database is a good idea — but will undoubtedly face scrutiny like FINRA’s BrokerCheck.

“For the foreseeable future, BrokerCheck will remain the gold standard for due diligence on registered brokers,” Brad Bennett, a former FINRA enforcement director and now a partner at Baker Botts in Washington, said in mid-November.

— Check out A Close-Up View of the SEC’s ‘Fiduciary’ Proposal on ThinkAdvisor.


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