Despite Unprecedented Challenges, SEC’s Division of Enforcement 2020 Annual Report Presents Healthy Enforcement Results

3 November 2020
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Key takeaways:
  • On November 2, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (the “SEC” or “Commission”) Division of Enforcement (the “Division”) released its 2020 Annual Report (the “Report”), which details the Division’s activities and results for the period October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020.
  • The Report notes that while the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of cases the Commission filed—405 standalone cases in 2020 compared to 526 in 2019—the remedies obtained by the Commission set a new record in FY 2020. Total monetary relief ordered, including disgorgement and penalties, increased from FY 2019 by approximately 8% to $4.68 billion. The Report also notes that FY 2020 was a banner year for the SEC’s whistleblower program, with a record total of $175 million in awards issued to 39 individuals, accounting for roughly 37% of the total number of awards over the life of the program.
  • As we continue into the Commission’s FY 2021, we expect that the SEC’s current level of enforcement activity will remain steady, if not increase, particularly depending on the results of a presidential election that could lead to an increased agency budget. Notably, inquires and investigations during FY 2020 were up from the prior year, which could be an indication that FY 2021 will be a busy year for the SEC, as the Division’s staff that has now adjusted to working in a remote work environment turns its focus to delivering on its commitment to accelerate the pace of investigations.