On January 13, 2010, the SEC announced new enforcement initiatives, including an “enforcement cooperation initiative” and five national specialized units that focus on complex areas of securities laws. The cooperation initiative permits enforcement staff to make deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements between the SEC and a cooperator pursuant to which the SEC agrees to forego or not pursue an enforcement action against the cooperator if that person agrees to cooperate fully and truthfully and comply with express undertakings. In addition, the SEC enforcement staff may agree in writing to recommend to the SEC that a cooperator receive credit for cooperating in investigations or related enforcement actions if the cooperator provides substantial assistance to the staff. In the past, all of these agreements were informal.
The new specialized units include an asset management unit, which will focus on investigations involving investment advisers, mutual funds, hedge funds and private equity funds. The other four new units include: (1) market abuse, (2) structured and new products, (3) foreign corrupt practices and (4) municipal securities and public pensions. The new units were created to provide additional resources and expertise for enforcement staff. As part of the enforcement changes, a new Office of Market Intelligence also was created that is responsible for the collection, analysis and monitoring of tips that the SEC receives.