Editor’s Note: Mark Schonfeld
is a litigation partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and co-chair of the firm’s Securities Enforcement Practice Group. This post is based on a Gibson Dunn client alert by Mr. Schonfeld and Kenneth J. Burke
; the full version, including footnotes, is available here
In many respects, 2012 was another year of aggressive SEC enforcement. The SEC’s Division of Enforcement again logged a near record number of enforcement actions. More important, the cases reflected a marked increase in the number and proportion of actions against registered investment advisers and broker-dealers, and their associated persons. This increased focus derives from a culmination of factors, including Enforcement’s creation of specialized units for the asset management industry and for structured products, the hiring of industry experts, and the close collaboration between staff from Enforcement and the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”). With the expansion of the registered private fund adviser population under financial reform legislation, and the launch of an initiative to conduct focused, risk-based examinations of these new registrants, this trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
At the same time, in the latter half of 2012 the SEC confronted significant challenges in litigating previously filed enforcement actions against individuals in cases related to the financial crisis. Whether these cases will cause the SEC to reevaluate its approach with respect to charging decisions in the future is unknown. However, in the short term, Enforcement seems undeterred by individual litigation results in its pursuit of continued enforcement actions.
The last six months of 2012 mark the beginning of another transition for the SEC generally, and for Enforcement in particular. As the year drew to a close, Mary Schapiro announced her departure as Chairman, followed by several division directors. Most notably, on January 9, 2013, the SEC announced that Robert Khuzami would step down as Director of Enforcement. As we look ahead to 2013, a new leadership team at the SEC and in Enforcement will seek to make their own imprint on the SEC’s priorities and processes. In addition, as more time has passed since the depth of the financial crisis, Enforcement’s priorities will shift to more recent conduct and emerging industry risks.
…continue reading: 2012 Year-End Securities Enforcement Update