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June 5, 2017

Supreme Court Decision on Disgorgement is Wrong: Will Allow Criminals to Keep Money They Ripped Off From Investors

June 5, 2017
Contact: Nick Jacobs, 202-618-6430 or

Washington, D.C. – Following today’s decision by the Supreme Court limiting the SEC’s ability to issue disgorgement orders, Dennis M. Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets released the following statement:

“The Supreme Court decision today on disgorgement is wrong.  Disgorgement is not a penalty.  Disgorgement merely requires crooks to give up – ‘disgorge’ — their ill-gotten gains, which is money they ripped off from other people and never had any right to.  That is the opposite of a penalty, which is supposed to extract a price above and beyond giving up money you ripped off.  

“Put simply, if a person robs a bank of $1 million and is caught, everyone thinks the bank robber should give up the $1 million.  That is disgorgement.  Of course, people also think the bank robber should be punished by prison and additional fines.  Those are penalties. 

“In this case, the SEC routinely seeks to have civil criminals ‘disgorge’ money that they take from other people illegally.  The Supreme Court decision today denies the SEC the power to do that, effectively allowing the bank robber to keep the $1 million he took from the bank, if the rip off occurred more than five years ago.  That makes no sense.  No matter when a criminal is caught, he or she should have to at least give up the money ripped off from other people. 

“Disgorgement stands for the basic principle that people should not profit from their crimes.  Today’s decision will allow some criminals, likely the most sophisticated and those with the best lawyers, to keep the fruits of their crimes and not be punished.  That is wrong.”


Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit



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