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March 14, 2024

Report: The SEC’s Enforcement Program Has to Start Meaningfully Punishing Individuals

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Benjamin Schiffrin, Director of Securities Policy, released the following statement in connection with the release of a report entitled “The SEC’s Enforcement Program Has to Start Meaningfully Punishing Individuals.”

“The importance of the SEC’s enforcement program to protecting the hard-earned money of investors, the integrity of the capital markets they invest in, and the importance of those markets to our economy, jobs, and growth cannot be overstated. When Americans are protected from fraudsters, they have the confidence they need to utilize the markets for important life goals like buying a home, sending their children to college, and saving for retirement. The United States has the deepest, broadest and most liquid markets in the world due in part to effective SEC enforcement of the federal securities laws.

“The SEC’s enforcement results in fiscal year 2023 were impressive and should help to deter lawbreaking. Unfortunately, one thing that stands out is the lack of charges against individual executives, officers, and corporate board members at firms charged with wrongdoing. The SEC’s practice of prioritizing charges against the biggest corporations and not the individuals responsible for and profiting from the lawbreaking at those firms is longstanding. This must change to bring true accountability and to protect the financial well-being of all Americans. The effectiveness of the SEC’s enforcement program would be strengthened if the SEC pursued individual wrongdoers in the cases it itself touts.

“Holding individuals accountable is essential to deter violations of the federal securities laws because when participants in the capital markets believe that there is no meaningful personal penalty to breaking the law, lawbreaking increases. This belief can become pervasive and contribute to systemic risk.  That’s what happened in the years before the catastrophic financial crash of 2008. The SEC must hold individual actors accountable if it is to prevent a recurrence of the conduct that led to that crisis. We urge the agency to work harder to hold individuals personally accountable, not just companies.”

You can find the report here.


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