SEC Securities Settlements Often Don’t Come with Admission of Wrongdoing

As Bloomberg News columnist Ann Woolner points out, in most US Securities and Exchange Commission where a settlement is reached, the defendant usually ends up not having to admit to doing anything wrong. Instead, the securities fraud agreement is accompanied by the boilerplate caveat that says that by settling, the plaintiff is doing so without “without admitting or denying” wrongdoing.

Granted, there are certain cases where a conviction or guilty plea in a related criminal case makes it clear that a wrongful action did take place. One might also say that by agreeing to settle and pay a huge financial sum, the plaintiff is admitting to the wrongdoing without actually admitting to doing anything wrong. However, as Woolner points, not all defendants of US Securities and Exchange Commission cases are also charged in criminal court over the alleged securities fraud. Even when a settlement is reached, without an admission, the exact nature of the fraud is often left unclear.

SEC spokesperson John Nestor says that of the over 600 securities lawsuits filed every year, only about 20 of them ever go to trial. Nestor notes that the SEC’s primary objective in any civil case is to secure the proper sanctions against wrongdoers and not making them admit wrongdoing is a way to get this done. Many violators will give up a great deal to avoid being held liable in civil court. They also have little incentive to confess because this could help the securities fraud lawsuits of plaintiffs.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff says that letting securities defendants get away with not admitting what they have done is a “disservice to the public.” Meantime, SEC commissioner also says that he wants defendants to “take accountability” and “issue mea culpas.” He also wants companies to stop putting out press releases suggesting that the SEC overreacted.

Related Web Resources:
Uncle Sam Wants Your Cash, Not Confession: Ann Woolner, Bloomberg, March 24, 2011

US Securities and Exchange Commission

More Blog Posts:
Bank of America to Pay $137M Over Alleged Investment Scam To Pay Municipalities Low Interest Rates on Investments and $9M Over Alleged Bid-Rigging Scheme to Nonprofits, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, December 16, 2010

NJ Settles Municipal Bond Offering Fraud Charges with SEC, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, September 30, 2010

Federal Judge to Approve Citigroup’s $75M Securities Settlement with SEC Over Bank’s Subprime Mortgage Debt Reporting to Investors, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, September 29, 2010

Contact our securities fraud attorneys to discuss your institutional investor securities fraud case.