SEC Plans To Alter Policy On Seeking Admissions

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On June 18, numerous media outlets reported that SEC Chair Mary Jo White indicated that the SEC will shift its policy toward extracting admissions from parties facing allegations of wrongdoing as a condition of resolving those allegations. While a majority of cases likely still will be settled under the current “neither admit nor deny” rubric, the SEC will seek admissions in cases that meet certain criteria, which likely will include “widespread harm to investors.” The shift would extend a policy adopted last year by then-SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami to no longer allow defendants who are convicted of or admit guilt with regard to criminal charges to neither admit nor deny the parallel civil liability. The SEC now may seek an admission even where there is no criminal finding or admission. This change follows increasing pressure from members of Congress on federal regulators and law enforcement authorities to more vigorously pursue allegations of wrongdoing by financial institutions, including, most recently, an inquiry by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as to whether the SEC and other agencies have conducted any internal research or analysis on trade-offs to the public between settling an enforcement action without admission of guilt and going forward with litigation to obtain a judicial finding of unlawful conduct.


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