On November 15, the SEC’s enforcement division issued a report highlighting its priorities for the coming year and looking back at its enforcement actions during fiscal year 2017, which ended on September 30.
In the report, enforcement division co-directors Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin state their overall enforcement approach: “Vigorous enforcement of the federal securities laws is critical to combat wrongdoing, compensate harmed investors, and maintain confidence in the integrity and fairness of our markets.” The report identifies five core principles that will guide future enforcement decision making: focus on the Main Street investor; focus on individual accountability; keep pace with technological change; impose sanctions that most effectively further enforcement goals; and constantly assess the allocation of resources. As examples of its efforts to protect Main Street and keep pace with technical change, the report points to the SECs recent formation of a Cyber Unit to target cyber-related misconduct and a Retail Strategy Task Force to develop strategies to address harm to retail investors.
Looking back, the report deems fiscal year 2017 a successful one for the enforcement division. The SEC brought a total of 754 enforcement actions and returned a record $1.07 billion to harmed investors. A significant number of actions concerned investment advisory issues, securities offerings, and issuer reporting/accounting and auditing (each comprising approximately 20 percent of the overall number of actions), as well as actions relating to market manipulation, insider trading and broker-dealers (each comprising approximately 10 percent of the overall number of actions).