In the Securities and Exchange Commission’s latest collection of statistics, companies and their counsel can see an agency trying to do more with less.
On Nov. 2, the SEC’s Division of Enforcement released its annual report on its activity for the past fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. In it, the commission lays out its stats on enforcement actions and the money it recovered from those actions, as well as its priority areas for enforcement. But the report also gives caveats on why those numbers aren’t higher — mainly that the enforcement division has fewer staff than under the Obama administration and recent Supreme Court decisions have hindered its ability to reap disgorgements.
The SEC launched 821 new enforcement actions in FY 2018, marking an 8 percent increase from the previous year. That doesn’t touch the high water mark of 868 new actions set in 2016, but as the report explains, many of those actions were tied to the commission’s Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation Initiative; take away the MCDC actions, and the SEC only initiated 784 new actions in 2016. Either way, this year the SEC showed a significant uptick from the Trump administration’s first year.