Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White says that the agency will direct more resources toward going after financial fraud and accounting fraud. She was, however, clear to point out that this did not mean that a new accounting and financial fraud unit would be created, despite calls for one by some industry members. White spoke at the CFO Network 2013, where she also announced that the Commission was modifying its “neither admit, nor deny” settlement practice. This is an announcement that our stockbroker fraud law firm addresses in a different blog post.
The Commission is currently assessing its Enforcement Division’s specialized units, and this review is expected to result in certain size refinements and mandates, as well as the establishment of maybe one or more new units. Enforcement Division co-director George Canellos, however, said that the same reason why such a unit wasn’t set up three years ago when five specialized units (focusing on market abuse, asset management, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, public pensions, and municipal securities) were established still holds.
The SEC said then that nearly every regional office has attorneys and experienced accountants they believed are able to handle such cases. That said, the Commission will give over more resources to surveillance and become even more proactive about identifying where there are risks in accounting issues. This will include the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis’s development of an “Accounting Quality Model” that would let the SEC identify financial statement outliers. There also will be more partnering between the Enforcement Division’s Office of the Chief Accountant and the Division of Corporation Finance to come up with more accounting leads.