A New Series: SEC Enforcement Trends and Priorities – 2008

Today, we begin a new occasional series titled SEC Enforcement Trends and Priorities 2008. Last year, the Enforcement Division brought a record number of cases. This is the first time in years that the number of cases has increased. Among those filed were significant insider trading cases, a significant number of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases, financial fraud actions and matters involving hedge funds and backdated options.

At the same time, the results last year raised significant questions concerning the enforcement program and its overall direction and vitality. For example, the dollar amount of fines and disgorgement dropped by 50%, sparking calls in Congress for an inquiry. There were a number of calls for Enforcement to reform its policies and procedures. There were also some disquieting court losses and settled enforcement actions which raise significant questions concerning the prosecution standards used to determine which cases should be brought.

To examine these trends and issues posts we will discuss in a series of articles:

1) Key statistics regarding the program;

2) Important “wins and losses” ;

3) Selected enforcement policies and the related calls for reform;

4) Key cases in areas which include insider trading, FCPA, financial fraud, options backdating, hedge funds and attorneys; and

5) Analysis and conclusions from these trends.

Next: Key statistics about the enforcement program