On November 15, 2017, Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin, the Co-Directors of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement, published the Division’s Annual Report for fiscal year 2017. Avakian and Peikin emphasized the Division’s commitment to enforcing the federal securities laws in order to “combat wrongdoing, compensate harmed investors, and maintain confidence in the integrity and fairness of our markets.” They also emphasized their goals of shielding investors, discouraging misconduct, and reprimanding and penalizing those who violate the federal securities laws. To accomplish these goals, five core principles, according to Avakian and Peikin, will serve as the Division’s road map.
First, the Division will focus primarily on retail investors, who Avakian and Peikin believe are not only the most common market participants, but also are the most susceptible and least equipped to handle financial loss. The Division plans to keep confronting violations of the securities laws that can have a strong impact on retail investors, such as accounting fraud, sales of unsuitable products, Ponzi schemes, and pump and dump schemes. The Division has also established a Retail Strategy Task Force to formulate competent methods of confronting securities law violations that affect retail investors. The Retail Strategy Task Force will work with the SEC’s examination staff and the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy to pinpoint risk areas common to retail investors. Continue reading