The number of Securities and Exchange Commission settlements fell for the second consecutive fiscal year, according to data released Monday. But, settlements could increase in 2010 and 2011.

In 2009, settlements overall declined 6.98% to 626 from a year earlier, according to NERA Economic Consulting's fiscal year-end SEC Settlements Trends report. The 2009 figures represent the lowest annual number of settling defendants since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was implemented in 2002.

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