In several weeks, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will release its annual enforcement results, and speculation about the trajectory of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement will resume in full force.
The results will reflect enforcement activity from the first full fiscal year of Jay Clayton’s tenure as SEC chairman. In the 16 months since Clayton’s swearing in, there have been repeated questions about how vigorously the Division of Enforcement is policing the U.S. capital markets. Naturally, following Mary Jo White’s “bold and unrelenting” enforcement agenda, many expected a decline in enforcement activity under Clayton.
There has, in fact, been a dip in the number of SEC enforcement actions during Clayton’s tenure, but the decline has not been as precipitous as many anticipated. And the decline in enforcement activity does not tell the whole story of the current enforcement program. There have been marked changes in priorities and tone and subtle shifts in the mix of cases coming out of the commission.
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