Record year for US watchdog as sanctions surge

THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) raked in $3.4bn (£2.09bn) in fines during the last financial year, the highest in the history of the organisation.

The US financial watchdog announced yesterday that it had levied the record amount in the year to September, a 10 per cent hike from last year.

Despite the fact that more actions were taken by the regulator in 2011, the amount levied from sanctions has risen by more than a fifth in the past two years.

“We are focused on addressing wrongdoing in all corners of the financial industry. Going forward, we will continue to be aggressive but fair in our pursuit of those who violate the securities laws,” commented George Canellos, the SEC’s enforcement co-director.

During the year, the SEC reached its biggest ever settlement against an exchange, pulling in $10bn from Nasdaq for Facebook’s botched initial public offering.

The SEC also suggests that it has started off the current financial year well, with a 13 per cent increase in investigations.

In March, the SEC clawed back $600m in a settlement with CR Intrinsic Investors after charging the firm with involvement in alleged insider trading.

JP Morgan also agreed to a $200m financial sanction during September, admitting wrongdoing surrounding the London Whale’s multi-billion losses. The bank paid hundreds of millions more to other regulators and authorities.

Earlier this year, former Goldman Sachs vice president Fabrice Tourre was found liable for fraud, after the SEC alleged that he had misled investors in the run-up to the financial crisis.

Yesterday, the SEC announced that it would be asking for a payment of more than $1.1m for his involvement in the incident.

In the 2014 fiscal year, the watchdog says that it will be concentrating further on short selling investigations and charges, after $14.4m in sanctions were issued to 23 firms earlier in 2013.