The SEC has announced its enforcement results for fiscal year 2015, which ended in September.  Enforcement filings for 2015 were up nearly 7% over the previous year.  The SEC filed 807 enforcement actions in 2015 (up from 755), with penalties and disgorgements totaling approximately $4.2 billion (up from $4.16 billion).  In its press release announcing the fiscal year results, the Commission touted many of its “first-of-a-kind” cases for 2015, including actions against:

  • A private equity adviser for misallocating broken deal expenses;
  • An auditing firm for issuing false and misleading unqualified audit opinions about the financial statements of its client;
  • A credit rating agency for fraudulent misconduct in its ratings of certain commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS); and
  • An underwriter for pricing-related fraud in the primary market for municipal securities.

The SEC also highlighted a number of its other high-priority actions, including:

  • Sanctioning three firms for violations of the market access rule (which requires firms to have adequate risk controls in place before providing customers with access to the market);
  • Charging 87 parties in cases involving trading on the basis of inside information (many of which the SEC says were “complex” cases that were cracked by its “innovative uses of data and analytics to spot suspicious trading”); Suspending trading in the securities of 334 issuers in order to combat market manipulation and microcap fraud; and
  • Charging nearly three dozen people with taking part in a scheme to profit from stolen nonpublic information about corporate earnings announcements.

Of the 807 enforcement actions filed in fiscal year 2015, 507 were independent actions for violations of the federal securities laws.  The remaining 300 actions included administrative proceedings seeking bars against individuals based on criminal convictions, civil injunctions, or other orders, and actions against issuers who were delinquent in making required filings.

The SEC also announced that its whistleblower program awarded eight whistleblowers with total awards of approximately $38 million in fiscal year 2015.  The SEC’s press release announcing its enforcements results for FY 2015 can be found here: http://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2015-245.html