In a press release yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced enforcement results for its fiscal year ending September 30, 2012.
The results include the SEC having filed 734 enforcement actions, just one case shy of last year’s record of 735. According to the Division of Enforcement, the cases, involved everything from highly complex products, transactions, and practices, including those related to the financial crisis, trading platforms and market structure, to insider trading by market professionals. In addition, orders were entered in some of these cases requiring the payment of more than $3 billion in penalties and disgorgement for the benefit of investors who were harmed.
As for investment advisers, the SEC filed 147 enforcement actions in 2012 against investment advisers and investment companies. Several cases resulted from the Division of Investment Management’s investment adviser compliance initiative involving advisers who failed to maintain effective compliance programs designed to prevent securities laws violations.
Other actions involving advisers included the SEC
- charging three advisory firms and six individuals as part of the Aberrational Performance Inquiry into abnormal performance returns by hedge funds;
- bringing cases against UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico and two executives for misleading disclosures relating to certain proprietary closed-end mutual funds;
- bringing an action against Morgan Stanley Investment Management for an improper fee arrangement; and
- bringing an action against OppenheimerFunds for misleading investors in two funds suffering significant losses during the financial crisis.
The Commission filed 134 enforcement actions related to broker-dealers — a 19 percent increase over 2011. Enforcement actions included an action against a Latvian trader and electronic trading firm for their involvement in an online account intrusion scheme that manipulated the prices of more than 100 NYSE and Nasdaq securities; and an action against New York-based brokerage firm Hold Brothers On-Line Investment Services and three of its executives for allowing overseas traders to access the markets and conduct manipulative trading through accounts the firm controlled.
The number of enforcement actions related to municipal securities more than doubled since 2011. The SEC filed 17 actions related to municipal securities, including charging Detroit’s former mayor and treasurer in a pay-to-play scheme involving Detroit’s pension funds. In another action, the SEC charged Goldman Sachs for violating municipal securities rules resulting from undisclosed “in-kind” non-cash contributions that one of its investment bankers made to a Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate.