With Chair Mary Jo White in her second year at the helm, the Securities and Exchange Commission showcased its efforts, improvements, and enforcement successes at this year’s SEC Speaks Conference. The Commission highlighted that it brought a record number of cases—755 enforcement actions—in fiscal year 2014, and obtained $4.1 billion in monetary relief. The Commission continues to emphasize its increased use of data analytics in both its regulatory efforts and enforcement investigations. As usual, the Commission, and the Division of Enforcement in particular, used the Conference to present their case that the SEC is firing on all cylinders.
INSIDER TRADING UP FRONT
According to Division of Enforcement leadership, insider trading continues to be a priority; the SEC has named 580 defendants in insider trading cases over the last 5 years and strong cases are still in the pipeline. The Staff’s evolving ability to analyze trading, both within a single account and across the accounts of multiple entities and individuals, enables the staff to identify traders and their information sources who may be potentially violating the insider trading laws. This, in turn, has helped the Staff discover, investigate, and initiate many cases, and has helped fill the Enforcement Division’s inventory for the upcoming year.
It was no surprise that Enforcement staff commented on the Second Circuit’s decision in U.S. v. Newman. The decision—vacating two criminal convictions for insider trading—could have a significant impact on insider trading enforcement as it appears to potentially raise the standard for finding liability by tippers and tippees in insider trading cases. As a result, the Commission has joined the U.S. Attorney in seeking a modification of the ruling. However, the Staff indicated that despite its disagreement with the Newman ruling, the majority of its current cases will not be affected by the decision.
A more complete analysis of the Conference can be found in our client alert, available here.