SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar Encourages Agency Not to Refrain From Exercising Enforcement Powers from Dodd-Frank to Protect Investors

SEC Commissioner says the Securities and Exchange Commission should go back to employing a “muscular approach” and use its new enforcement powers bestowed under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The financial reform legislation gives the SEC more authority and enforcement tools in the areas of extraterritorial reach, subpoenas, aiding and abetting liability, and whistleblowing. The SEC also now has oversight over hedge and private equity funds and over-the-counter derivatives.

Aguilar spoke on October 15 at the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Law, Business and the Economy. He says that his views are his own.

Aguilar says that Americans must feel as if the SEC will use whatever tools and powers at its disposal to protect investors from. He notes that action, not rhetoric, is now required. Aguilar cites areas that the SEC has been slow to deal with in terms of enforcement action. For example, there is the area of clawbacks. Aguilar noted that even though the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act lets the commission bring an enforcement action against CFO’s and CEO’s to recover incentive pay and bonuses related to a financial restatement because of misconduct, the SEC waited five years to exercise this authority when it brought action against ex- CSK Auto Corp. (CAO) CEO Maynard Jenkins. Aguilar says that if the law had been enforced earlier, less investors might have been harmed.

The SEC commissioner wants the SEC to “resist” the trend toward an entrenched two-tier market where different investors are overseen and protected differently. He says that recent SEC cases involving pension funds and auction-rate securities are clear indicators that institutional investors also need protections.

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Related Web Resources:
Speech by SEC Commissioner: An Insider’s View of the SEC: Principles to Guide Reform, SEC.gov, October 15, 2010

SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (PDF)

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