SEC Record Debated as Politicians Get Tough on Wall Street

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The Wall Street Journal put together an interesting analysis of the fines handed down by the SEC against individuals and firms over the past ten years. This analysis comes in light of the recent legislation introduced into the Senate to increase the amount of civil monetary penalties the agency can hand out in an enforcement action.

The study found that the SEC is on track to levy its highest number of fines this fiscal year based on the number of penalties in the first six months. The 103 penalties against firms in FY2015 compared to just 66 in the first half of FY2014.

The median fines on individuals during the first six months of FY2015 were also at their highest in a decade. Half the fines exceeded $122,500 according to the Wall Street Journal. In 2005, the median fine on individuals was just over 50,000.

The data is interesting given the attacks against SEC Chair Mary Jo White and the securities regulator. Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized White’s tenure as soft in the punishment of wrongdoers. White reportedly sent a letter on Friday back to Warren responding to the allegations in her 13 page letter. And the SEC has been facing the charge that it didn’t put any tool level bank executives in jail following the mortgage crisis for a while now, even though it has presented evidence about its prosecution of certain individuals involved.

In a speech today in Greenwich Village, Hillary Clinton warned about risks created by shadow banking and vowed tougher oversight of Wall Street. Her speech suggested that we should expect proposals for increased regulation of high frequency traders, hedge funds and non-bank finance companies in the future.

Clinton’s remarks follows calls for reforms last week by Presidential Candidate Martin O’Malley, who has been referred to as Wall Street’s Public Enemy #1. O’Malley has pledged to reinstate the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act to break up the megabanks and bring in tougher enforcement by the Justice Dept., SEC and CFTC.

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