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July 3, 2013

S.E.C. Has a Message for Firms Not Used to Admitting Guilt

The days of cop-out settlements in big securities cases may be waning.

In a departure from long-established practice, the recently confirmed chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White, said this week that defendants would no longer be allowed to settle some cases while ‘neither admitting nor denying’ wrongdoing.

“’In the interest of public accountability, you need admissions” in some cases, Ms. White told me. ‘Defendants are going to have to own up to their conduct on the public record,’ she said. ‘This will help with deterrence, and it’s a matter of strengthening our hand in terms of enforcement.’

In a memo to the S.E.C. enforcement staff announcing the new policy on Monday, the agency’s co-leaders of enforcement, Andrew Ceresney and George Canellos, said there might be cases that “justify requiring the defendant’s admission of allegations in our complaint or other acknowledgment of the alleged misconduct as part of any settlement.'”

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Read full New York Times article here

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