SEC Enforcement Director Assures CCOs They Need Not Fear SEC Action Absent Wrongdoing

Are chief compliance officers (CCOs) of hedge fund managers and other SEC-registered entities unfairly targeted by the SEC for enforcement action?  This question has been hotly debated in recent months, and a new voice added to the debate was that of Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  In his keynote speech to the National Society of Compliance Professionals 2015 National Conference, Ceresney addressed Enforcement’s perspective on compliance officers, as well as how it approaches enforcement cases that touch compliance personnel, in an effort to illustrate “that these actions punish misconduct that falls outside the bounds of the work that nearly all [CCOs] do on a daily basis; do not involve the exercise of good faith judgments; and are consistent with the partnership we have developed to foster compliance with the laws.”  This article analyzes Ceresney’s remarks.  For additional insight from SEC officials on CCO liability, see “SEC Commissioner Speaks Out Against Trend Toward Strict Liability for Compliance Personnel,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 8, No. 25 (Jun. 25, 2015); and “SEC Commissioner Issues Statement Supporting Hedge Fund Manager Chief Compliance Officers,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 8, No. 28 (Jul. 16, 2015).  See also “Commissioner Gallagher’s Dissent in SEC Enforcement Action Against Hedge Fund Manager Misses the Mark,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 8, No. 30 (Jul. 30, 2015).

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