By Chris Prentice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) levied $6.4 billion in enforcement actions, including $4 billion in penalties, in fiscal 2022, the agency’s chair Gary Gensler said on Wednesday.
The large number of fines, fees and penalties from about 700 enforcement actions marks a record and underscores the Wall Street regulator’s more aggressive stance against corporate wrongdoing under Democratic leadership.
The total levied is higher than the previous year’s $3.9 billion the SEC obtained from 697 actions and than 2020’s record of $4.7 billion across 715 cases, according to a review of SEC’s previous enforcement results.
Gensler highlighted the SEC’s enforcement activity in the year ended September 30 in prepared remarks at a Practicing Law Institute event. The agency is expected to publish its full enforcement report sometime this month.
The year’s enforcement activity included several large resolutions, including a $675-million penalty against Germany’s Allianz SE to resolve probes over the collapse of a group of investment funds and penalties against major Wall Street banks including Barclays, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan after staff discussed deals and trades on their personal devices and apps.
The year’s charges also included $200 million settlement with Boeing Co to over charges it misled investors about its 737 MAX and a fine against BlockFi Lending LLC with failing to register a crypto lending product.
Penalties for fraud and misconduct have surged in recent years, but the regulator has historically struggled to collect all the cash from those resolutions.
More needs to be done to tackle recidivism and keep the penalties from being a cost of doing business for large institutions, said Dennis Kelleher, president of the Washington-based advocacy group Better Markets.
“Bragging about being the best toll collector on the corporate crime highway is like a police department bragging about the number of speeding tickets it gives to escaping bank robbers – that approach won’t punish, deter, or stop lawbreaking,” he said in a statement.
(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)