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SEC Enforcement Means Business. What it Means for Your Compliance Program

The Securites and Exchange Commission has been busy in 2023 with a near record-high level of

enforcement actions. What does this mean for your compliance program?

Peter Guarino, President of Compliance4 advises,“The SEC is not going to lighten up in 2024. We can expect more of the same from the current SEC administration as the SEC will continue to flex its enforcement muscles." He adds, "Conversely, more compliance means less enforcement, so it's time to really create a compliance program and test it to ensure that it is stronger than ever."

According to SEC Chair Gary Gensler, “The investing public benefits from the Division of Enforcement’s work as a cop on the beat. Last fiscal year’s results demonstrate yet again the Division’s effectiveness — working alongside colleagues throughout the agency — in following the facts and the law wherever they lead to hold wrongdoers accountable.”

As Director Gurbir S. Grewal remarked he is “extremely proud of the Division’s efforts…” The Division of Enforcement continues “seeking robust remedies, rewarding cooperation, protecting whistleblowers, or returning nearly a billion dollars to harmed investors and stood up for the investing public.”

On November 14, 2023, the SEC announced its enforcement results for fiscal year 2023. The SEC says it brought 784 total enforcement actions in fiscal 2023 bringing in more than $4.9 billion in penalties.

(That’s three SEC actions per working day!)

Here's a summary of the 2023 enforcement results.

  • 784 total enforcement actions in fiscal year 2023 up from 760 in FY 2022.

  • 501 original, or “stand-alone,” enforcement actions up from 462.

  • 162 “follow-on” administrative proceedings seeking to bar or suspend individuals from the industry based on criminal convictions, civil injunctions, or other orders.

  • 133 orders barring individuals from serving as officers and directors of public companies (highest number of officer and director bars obtained in a decade)

  • 121 actions against issuers who were allegedly delinquent in making required filings with the SEC.

Fines, civil penalties, and financial remedies

  • $4.949 billion in financial remedies

  • The 2023 financial remedies comprised $3.369 billion in disgorgement and prejudgment interest and $1.580 billion in civil penalties

  • $930 million was distributed to harmed investors over the prior fiscal year

The Whistleblower Program experienced the following:

  • $600 million in total issued whistleblower awards

  • A record-breaking $279 million awarded to one whistleblower;

  • Over 18,000 whistleblower tips received over the prior fiscal year

  • Over 40,000 tips, complaints, and referrals received over the prior fiscal year.

In our opinion, the effectiveness of your compliance program is more important than ever. We

strongly encourage using a third party to put outside eyes on your compliance programs.


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