Enforcement statistics

According to a new report from Cornerstone Research, the number of accounting and auditing enforcement actions the SEC initiated in 2019 was down slightly from the number initiated in 2018, but the number remained near the 2014-2018 average. Monetary settlements of accounting and auditing enforcement actions during 2019 totaled approximately $626 million.  The June 25, 2020 report, which also summarizes accounting and auditing enforcement activity initiated by the PCAOB, is entitled “Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Activity – 2019 Review and Analysis” and can be found here. Cornerstone Research’s June 25, 2020 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Actions Down Slightly in 2019

The SEC’s Enforcement Division had another active enforcement year in fiscal 2019, which ended September 30, 2019, that resulted in substantial recoveries. According to the Division’s latest annual report, the agency pursued more enforcement actions in fiscal 2019, including more standalone actions, than in the past several years. The agency’s enforcement action monetary recoveries, including both penalties and disgorgement, also were at the highest level in years. As the report points out, the agency maintained this level of activity and recoveries despite a number of factors – what the report describes as “significant headwinds” — that constrained the agency’s efforts and recoveries. The Enforcement Division’s November 6, 2019 annual report can be found here. The agency’s November 6, 2019 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading The SEC’s Enforcement Division Reports Elevated Enforcement Action and Monetary Recovery Levels

Driven in significant part by the new actions filed as part of the SEC’s Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative, the number of SEC enforcement actions against public companies and subsidiaries remained at “near-record levels” in the first half of fiscal year 2018, according to a recent report. The report, published by Cornerstone Research in collaboration with the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business and entitled “SEC Enforcement Activity: Public Companies and Subsidiaries Midyear FY 2019 Update,” states that the enforcement activity levels in the first half of FY 2019 continued “a resurgence of activity that began in the second half of FY 2018.” The report can be found here. A May 15, 2019 press release describing the report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Public Company Enforcement Activity Remained Near Record Levels in FY2019’s First Half

On March 26, 2019, the SEC announced that it was awarding two whistleblowers a total of $50 million for providing the agency with information that led to a successful enforcement action. The two awards consisted of an award to one individual of $13 million and an award to a second individual of $37million. The $37 million award is the third largest award in the history of the SEC’s whistleblower program. The SEC’s March 26, 2019 press release announcing the awards can be found here. The SEC’s whistleblower award order can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Awards Two Whistleblowers $50 Million, Including Third Largest Ever Individual Award

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

Senator Elizabeth Warren
SEC Chair Mary Jo White

Perhaps SEC officials hoped they were bolstering their agency’s image as a tough regulator when they reported on October 11, 2016 that the SEC had filed a record number of enforcement actions in fiscal year 2016. That was certainly the way the officials quoted in the agency’s press release played it. But if that was their plan, Senator Elizabeth Warren, at least, was having none of it. Just days after the agency released its enforcement statistics, Senator Warren sent a 12-page letter to President Barack Obama calling for the President to fire Mary Jo White as SEC Chair, because, the Senator contends, under White’s watch the agency has undermined the administration’s priorities, ignored the SEC’s core mission of investor protection, and failed to promulgate or implement disclosure requirements Warren supports.
Continue Reading Despite Record SEC Enforcement Activity, Senator Warren Calls for President to Fire Agency Chair

SEC logoThe SEC’s enforcement activity so far this fiscal year trails the record levels in the 2015 fiscal year. According to a recent report from Cornerstone Research (here), the SEC’s enforcement activity through the end of the fiscal third quarter (on June 30, 2016) is eight percent below the activity levels during the same period in FY 2015, largely as a result of an activity decline in the third quarter. At this point, even if the agency is active in the fourth fiscal quarter, it seems unlikely that by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2016 that the agency’s enforcement activity will catch up to the prior year.
Continue Reading SEC Enforcement Actions Decline

ausAustralia has long been in the vanguard when it comes to enforcement of duties of corporate directors. Australia was the first English-speaking jurisdiction to introduce statutory directors’ duties in 1896, and the first English-speaking jurisdiction to introduce criminal sanctions to enforce statutory directors’ duties in 1958. However, following the recent global financial crisis, questions were

nyulaw2On October 27, 2015, Cornerstone Research in conjunction with the New York University Pollock Center for Law & Business and the Leonard N. Stern School of Business to launch the Securities Enforcement Database (SEED). As described in the organizations’ joint October 27, 2015 press release (here), the database will track record and information relating to SEC enforcement actions filed against public companies. The SEED database, which can be found here, will facilitate the analysis of and reporting of SEC enforcement actions through regular updates of new filings and settlement information relating to ongoing enforcement action.
Continue Reading New SEC Enforcement Action Database from NYU and Cornerstone Research

whistlesecIn recent years, one of the favored responses of legislative reformers and regulatory enforcement authorities to financial fraud and other corporate misconduct has been the encouragement of whistleblowing activity. Both the Sarbanes-Oxley and the Dodd-Frank Act contained elaborate provisions designed to encourage and even to reward whistleblowers. There seems to be no question that the