In its June 2017 decision in Kokesh v. SEC  (discussed here), the U.S. Supreme Court held that disgorgement in an SEC enforcement action represents a “penalty,” and therefore a SEC enforcement action  claim for disgorgement is subject to a five-year statute of limitation. In reaching this decision, the Court emphasized (in footnote 3 to the opinion) that it was only deciding the statute of limitations issue, and was emphatically not reaching the larger issue of whether the SEC has the proper authority to order disgorgement in enforcement proceeding.

Having previously reserved this larger question in Kokesh, the Court has now agreed to take up a case that will address head-on the question of whether the SEC has the authority to order a disgorgement. On November 1, 2019, the Court granted the petition for a writ of certiorari in the case of Liu v. SEC, which will require the Court to decide whether the SEC may seek may seek and obtain disgorgement from a court as “equitable relief” for a securities law violation even though the Supreme Court determined in Kokesh that disgorgement is a penalty.  The Court’s November 1, 2019 order granting the writ of certiorari can be found here.
Continue Reading Supreme Court to Consider SEC’s Authority to Seek and Obtain Disgorgement