SEC actions down in fiscal 2013 but sanctions up

Fewer than 700 actions taken but agency collected a record $3.4 billion

By Trevor Hunnicutt

Dec 17, 2013 @ 12:43 pm (Updated 3:17 pm) EST

securities and exchange commission, SEC, enforcement, actions, whistelblower
SEC Chairman Mary Jo White oversaw fewer enforcement actions in 2013 but a record amount of sanctions levied. Bloomberg News

The Securities and Exchange Commission pursued fewer enforcement actions but yielded higher amounts in sanctions in its last fiscal year, the federal securities regulator announced Tuesday.

In its 2013 fiscal year, which ended in September, the SEC netted $3.4 billion in sanctions, a record, from 686 enforcement actions, up 10% from the year before, the SEC said in a statement.

The SEC highlighted several of its enforcement actions since the financial crisis, which have included actions against Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo & Co. and UBS Securities over their creation and marketing of structured products associated with the excesses that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

Some of their major cases this year included a penalty against Nasdaq for its involvement in the Facebook stock offering, a case against hedge fund manager Steven Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors and a trial of former Goldman Sachs vice president Fabrice Tourre.

The SEC said it opened 908 investigations and obtained 574 formal orders of investigation last year, creating “a strong pipeline” for its enforcement efforts in its current fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1.

The SEC declined to provide specific numbers for sanctions against financial advisers.