Outgoing SEC Chair Outlines New Model for Enforcement Priorities in 2017 and Beyond

Mary Jo White, the departing SEC Chair, will leave the organization in a stronger position than it was when she joined it. The commission now operates with significantly enhanced abilities to detect, examine, prosecute and reach settlements over illegal activity in the funds sector. For another view of the agency’s priorities, see “Former SEC Senior Counsel Offers Insight on SEC Enforcement Focus and Priorities” (Sep. 1, 2016). White has helped drive several transformative innovations and developments with respect to the SEC’s tools, tactics and methodology, including shifting from research to evidence-gathering; sharing part or all of a case with defense counsel to promote settlements; using sophisticated data analytics to identify trading irregularities; utilizing whistleblowers, along with stepped-up efforts to protect them from employer retaliation; and decisively transitioning from “neither admit nor deny” toward a protocol that requires defendants to admit guilt in an enforcement matter. The above were detailed in a recent speech given by White. This article summarizes her key points, as they inform fund managers of the direction the SEC is likely to take in the coming year and beyond with respect to investigations and enforcement actions. For additional analysis of public commentary by White, see “Expectations for Fund Directors” (Apr. 7, 2016); “Two Types of Risks Hedge Fund Managers Must Consider” (Oct. 29, 2015); and “The SEC’s Game Plan With Respect to the Asset Management Industry” (Dec. 18, 2014). 

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