Legislators will meet on Capitol Hill Thursday to consider a bill that would bolster the Securities and Exchange Commissions enforcement powers and increase its ability to award cash settlements to defrauded investors.
The House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee, chaired by Richard Baker (R-La.), believes that this piece of legislation will help rebuild investor confidence through stricter policing of the securities industry.
The Securities Fraud Deterrence and Investor Restitution Act was first introduced in May to boost the SECs ability to go after securities lawbreakers, increase efficiency and ensure investors are given a chance to recover losses resulting from fraud. The bill is part of an ongoing effort to prevent fraud and protect investors, one that began with the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley last year.
The bill would potentially prevent violators from shielding property from the SEC, give the SEC additional authority to impose civil money penalties, access bank records, increase fines and contract attorneys to assist in the collection process of those fines.
On the investor level, the SEC would have the authority to return any recovered funds to injured investors, allocate remaining funds to investor education efforts, encourage private parties to assist in gathering necessary documents during an investigation and authorize criminal prosecutors to release limited grand jury information to SEC staff. The bill would also increase the SECs authority to serve subpoenas nationwide.
Scheduled to testify at the hearing are Stephen Cutler, director of enforcement at the SEC, Mary Schapiro, vice chairman and president of regulatory policy and oversight at the National Association of Securities Dealers , and Christine Bruenn, president of North American Securities Administrators Association.