Securities and Exchange Commission: Additional Actions Needed to Ensure Planned Improvements Address Limitations in Enforcement Division Operations

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) ability to conduct investigations and bring enforcement actions for violations of securities laws is critical to its mission to protect investors and maintain fair and orderly markets. SEC's Division of Enforcement (Enforcement) is charged with investigating securities law violations; recommending civil enforcement actions when appropriate, either in a federal court or before an administrative law judge; and negotiating settlements on behalf of the Commission. The types of sanctions that Enforcement can seek on behalf of the Commission include monetary penalties ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. August 15, 2007.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) ability to conduct investigations and bring enforcement actions for violations of securities laws is critical to its mission to protect investors and maintain fair and orderly markets. SEC's Division of Enforcement (Enforcement) is charged with investigating securities law violations; recommending civil enforcement actions when appropriate, either in a federal court or before an administrative law judge; and negotiating settlements on behalf of the Commission. The types of sanctions that Enforcement can seek on behalf of the Commission include monetary penalties or fines and disgorgements of the profits that individuals or companies may derive by having committed securities violations. While SEC has only civil authority, it also works with various law enforcement agencies, including the United States Department of Justice (Justice), to bring criminal cases when appropriate. In addition, Enforcement is responsible for overseeing the Fair Fund program, which seeks to compensate investors who suffer losses resulting from fraud or other securities violations by individuals and companies. Under the Fair Fund program, SEC can combine the proceeds of monetary penalties and disgorgements into a single fund and then distribute the proceeds to harmed investors. In recent years, Enforcement has initiated high-profile actions that resulted in record civil fines against companies and senior officers and in some cases contributed to criminal convictions. However, the capacity of SEC in general and Enforcement in particular to appropriately plan and effectively manage their activities and fulfill their critical law enforcement and investor protection responsibilities on an ongoing basis has been criticized in the past. Although SEC received a substantial increase in its appropriations as a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, questions have been raised in Congress and elsewhere on the extent to which the agency is using these resources to better fulfill its mission. Moreover, we have reported that aspects of Enforcement's information systems and management procedures could limit the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations. For example, we found in 2004 that Enforcement faced challenges in developing the advanced information technology necessary to facilitate the investigative process. In addition, we reported in 2005 that the distribution of funds to harmed investors under the Fair Fund program was limited and that Enforcement had not developed adequate systems and data to fulfill its oversight responsibilities. Because of congressional interest in ensuring that SEC effectively manages its resources and helps ensure compliance with securities laws and regulations, Congress requested that we review key Enforcement management processes and systems and follow up on our previous work where appropriate. Accordingly, this report evaluates Enforcement's (1) internal processes and information systems for planning, tracking, and closing investigations and planned changes to these processes and systems; (2) implementation of SEC's Fair Fund program responsibilities; and (3) efforts to coordinate investigative activities with other SEC divisions and federal and state law enforcement agencies."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • August 15, 2007

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Securities and Exchange Commission: Additional Actions Needed to Ensure Planned Improvements Address Limitations in Enforcement Division Operations, report, August 15, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301844/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.