Civil penalties against public companies have always been controversial, but they are now commonplace. To the cynic, the penalty regime appears to be a studied compromise, in which public companies are allowed to settle SEC enforcement actions with reduced charges and no individual liability in exchange for a payment. This allows the SEC to trumpet a strong enforcement program by pointing to a big monetary fine. It also allows public companies and their executives to avoid more serious and onerous sanctions, along with the collateral consequences thereof, by paying a fine using other people’s money.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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