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Rules & Regulations

Giving the SEC a Bigger Bite in Fight to Protect Investors

April 3, 2017

A bill was introduced in the Senate last week that would give the SEC authority to impose higher penalties on those who violate securities laws. Under The Stronger Enforcement of Civil Penalties Act of 2017:


  • Individuals charged with the most serious securities law violations would face a penalty that would be the greater of: (i) $1 million; (ii) 3 times the monetary gain; or, (iii) the losses incurred by the victims of the violation.


  • Entities charged with those serious violations would face a penalty that is the greater of: (i) $10 million; (ii) 3 times the monetary gain; or, (iii) losses the victims of the violations incurred.


  • The SEC could triple its fines against repeat offenders that have committed criminal or civil securities fraud within the previous 5 years.


According to, the SEC can currently only penalize violators in cases up to $181,071 per offense for individuals and $905,353 for institutions. The SEC can also calculate penalties to equal the amount of ill-gotten gains if the enforcement action is filed in federal court, but cannot do so if it is filed in an administrative proceeding. The legislation would allow the SEC to assess the penalties for cases in both federal court and administrative proceedings.


The bill was referred to the Senate Banking Committee for consideration.