The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposed $6.4 billion in enforcement actions, including $4 billion in penalties, in fiscal 2022, according to the agency’s chair, Gary Gensler.
The large number of fines, fees, and penalties imposed as a result of approximately 700 enforcement actions sets a new high and demonstrates the Wall Street regulator’s more aggressive stance against corporate wrongdoing under Democratic leadership.
According to a review of the SEC’s previous enforcement results, the total levied is higher than the previous year’s $3.9 billion obtained from 697 actions and the record of $4.7 billion obtained from 715 cases in 2020.
In prepared remarks at a Practicing Law Institute event, Gensler highlighted the SEC’s enforcement activity in the fiscal year ended September 30. The agency plans to release its full enforcement report later this month.
The year’s enforcement activity included several large resolutions, including a $675-million penalty against Germany’s Allianz SE to resolve probes into the collapse of a group of investment funds, as well as penalties against major Wall Street banks such as Barclays, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan after employees discussed deals and trades on personal devices and apps.
A $200 million settlement with Boeing Co over allegations that it misled investors about its 737 MAX and a fine against BlockFi Lending LLC for failing to register a crypto lending product were also among the year’s charges.
Penalties for fraud and misconduct have increased in recent years, but the regulator has historically struggled to collect the full amount.
According to Dennis Kelleher, president of the Washington-based advocacy group Better Markets, more needs to be done to combat recidivism and keep penalties from becoming a cost of doing business for large institutions.
“Bragging about being the best toll collector on the corporate crime highway is like a police department bragging about how many speeding tickets it issues to fleeing bank robbers – that approach will not punish, deter, or stop lawbreaking,” he said in a statement.