Regulatory Enforcement

The standard view of the Biden Administration SEC under the leadership of Gary Gensler is that the agency will take a more active enforcement approach than was the case during the prior administration. Two developments in the past few days certainly support this standard view. First, in a speech last week, new SEC Enforcement Division Director Gurbir Grewal indicated that the agency will be requiring admissions of wrongdoing in some enforcement settlements. Second, in a statement the next day, SEC Chair Gensler announced that the agency would revitalize the rulemaking process with respect to rules regarding clawbacks of erroneously awarded compensation. As discussed below, these moves evidence a more aggressive approach to the enforcement of the securities laws. The text of Grewal’s October 13, 2021 speech can be found here. Gensler’s October 14, 2021 statement about the compensation clawback rules can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Moves on Admissions and Compensation Clawbacks Underscore Tougher Enforcement Approach

As I discussed in a post at the time (here), in August 2021 the SEC brought an cybersecurity-related disclosure enforcement action against UK educational publishing firm Pearson plc. In the following guest post, Paul Ferrillo, Daphne Morduchowitz and James Billings-Kang take a detailed look at the Pearson enforcement action and discuss the action’s implications. Paul and Daphne are partners and James is an associate at the Seyfarth Shaw law firm. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.
Continue Reading SEC Ramps Up Its Cyber-Security Enforcement in Pearson Matter

From the outset, it has been clear that certain issues are going to be top-of-the-agenda items for the Biden Administration, including, for example, climate change, diversity and inclusion, and cybersecurity. In a July 9, 2021 Executive Order (here), the White House made it clear that competition is also going to be a priority as well. The President’s Executive Order sets out a broad range of initiatives that will impact a wide array of industries across the American economy. As discussed below, the new Executive Order has important implications for companies and their executives; among other things, the initiatives proposed in the order could lead to heightened D&O claims risk and exposure.
Continue Reading New Executive Order Means Increased Regulatory Action and Increased Follow-on D&O Claims Risk

As I noted at the time, earlier this month the SEC released its enforcement activity report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. While the report fully detailed the agency’s enforcement activity, the report did not break out statistics reflecting the SEC’s actions against publicly traded companies. A November 18, 2020 report from Cornerstone Research, written in collaboration with the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business, entitled “SEC Enforcement Activity: Public Companies and Subsidiaries Fiscal Year 2020 Update” (here), takes a detailed look at SEC enforcement activity involving publicly traded companies and their subsidiaries during FY 2020.

As was the case with enforcement activity overall, enforcement activity involving publicly traded companies declined during FY 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, but after a sharp drop in activity during the first half of the fiscal year, enforcement activity rebounded toward the end of the second half. The agency’s $1.6 billion in public company monetary settlements slightly exceeded the equivalent figures for FY 2019. Cornerstone Research’s November 18, 2020 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Public Company Enforcement Actions Decreased in FY 2020, But Recoveries Increased

Now that the Presidential election has been called for Joe Biden, it is time to start asking what a Biden Presidency may mean, including in particular what SEC enforcement and regulatory activity might look like under a Biden Administration. As discussed below, the likelihood is that we will see a more active SEC enforcement division and a shift back toward a more active regulatory approach.
Continue Reading What Does the Biden Victory Mean for the SEC?

Fines and other recoveries in SEC enforcement action hit record levels during the agency’s fiscal year ended September 30, 2020, even as pandemic-related work closures dampened the number of enforcement actions the agency was able to file, according to the SEC Enforcement Division’s annual report released Monday. The SEC scored a record total of $4.6 billion in recoveries, largely as a result of big fines and disgorgements in a few large matters, while the 405 new standalone enforcement actions the agency filed was the lowest number in six years. The Enforcement Division’s annual report can be found here. The agency’s November 2, 2020 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading Despite COVID-19 Disruptions, SEC Recoveries at Record Levels in FY 2020

In November, when the SEC released its annual enforcement activity report, the report showed that during the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2018 both the volume of the agency’s enforcement activity and the level of financial recoveries increased compared to the prior fiscal year. The agency’s report did not separate out its enforcement activity involving public companies. However, a new report from the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business and Cornerstone Research breaks out the enforcement numbers for public companies. The new report show that SEC enforcement actions against public companies and subsidiaries “jumped substantially” in the second half of FY 2018, reversing a decline in filings that began in the second half of 2017 and continued through the first half of 2018.
Continue Reading SEC Enforcement Activity Against Public Companies Surges in FY 2018’s Second Half

Bill Boeck

As most readers undoubtedly are aware, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation went into effect on May 25, 2018. Even though the regulation has only been in effect for a few months, regulators across Europe have already starting levying fines under the regulation’s provisions. In the following guest post, Bill Boeck takes a look at the fines that have been imposed so far and considers their implications. Bill is currently Senior Vice President and Insurance and Claims Counsel with the Lockton Companies.  He is Lockton’s global leader for cyber claims and for the development of proprietary cyber wordings and endorsements.  Bill also leads Lockton’s US financial lines claims practice. A version of this article previously was published on the Lockton Cyber Risk Update Blog. I would like to thank Bill for his willingness to allow me to publish his article on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Bill’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: What Can the First GDPR Fines Tell Us?

Both the volume of SEC enforcement activity and the level of financial recoveries increased in the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2018, according to the agency’s annual enforcement activity report. The increases came after activity had been down in the prior year, the first year under the current presidential administration. However, the agency’s enforcement chiefs cautioned against placing too much weight on the numbers alone. The report contains some interesting signs of what we might expect in the current fiscal year. The SEC’s enforcement report can be found here. The agency’s November 2, 2018 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC 2018 FY Enforcement Report Shows Increased Activity, Recoveries