The SEC has now substantially increased its fines for Wall Street which has led to litigation, per the WSJ.
“Big banks and brokerage firms are handing over bigger checks to settle regulatory investigations, including those that don’t result in losses for investors.
U.S. market regulators are increasingly demanding tens of millions of dollars to settle technical violations that just a few years ago cost companies much less to resolve”, reports the journal.
This past week, the SEC sued Virtu Financial over claims that some employees could have improperly viewed its clients’ confidential trading information.
The lawsuit noted that regulators couldn’t tell if the wrong traders ever saw the nonpublic records.
“The SEC settles most of its enforcement cases, and Wall Street firms prefer to pay fines and avoid litigation that would put more heat on executives.
But SEC officials under Chair Gary Gensler are seeking higher fines to settle, even if prior offenders paid less.
In the Virtu case, the SEC sought a fine of more than $25 million, people familiar with the matter said, many times what similar prior cases fetched for the agency. The fine would have represented about 5% of Virtu’s net income last year.”
Virtu and other companies who dominate the business of filling small investors’ orders say they give traders a better pricing than they would get at the lit stock exchange.
However, retail investors have raised concerns that these institutions have loopholes (should they want) to manipulate stocks in foreign exchanges.
And as we’ve seen on X, formerly known as Twitter, Doug Cifu alongside pal Charles Gasparino have taunted retail investors for investing in companies such as AMC Entertainment.
The two claim investors should be investigated for ‘pumping’ stocks but investors say these institutions have too much power to sway the markets.
And as Gensler has stated, institutions do indeed have a much greater advantage in the markets compared to the average retail investor.
Hedge Funds Spend Billions to Attack The New SEC Rules
Private equity, capital ventures, and hedge funds are spending billions to attack the new and approved SEC rules according to Financial Times.
“The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision last month to adopt sweeping new rules for the private fund industry is prompting some smaller fund managers to look for their first full-time general counsels and chief compliance officers.
Larger firms are considering not only whether to recruit more staff, but also the need for different kinds of lawyers in light of new rules that will change the way they interact with their investors.
And the entire industry is gearing up to invest more on compliance and reporting technology,” reports FT.
Industry groups have lobbied furiously against the proposals since they were first put forward in February 2022, saying institutional investors should be free to make their own deals with fund managers.
The rules, which were recently passed on a 3-2 vote, aim to provide investors with detailed quarterly reports on performance and increased disclosure on expenses and provide overall greater transparency.
“Economically, our investors, large or small, benefit from greater transparency and integrity,” SEC chair Gary Gensler said after the vote.
“These are significant enhancements in the capital markets.”
“These rules will help protect workers’ pensions and create a more transparent and accountable private funds market,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, who chairs the banking committee.
But Wall Street is pushing back and so are lobbied regulators tied to the big players.
The rule “is unnecessary government interference . . . [that] will squelch competition in the name of enhancing it,” said Hester Peirce, an SEC commissioner who has close ties to a lobbyist group of anti-regulators.
The new rules would impose “significant costs” and big changes on the industry, said Elizabeth Shea Fries, partner at Sidley.
“This is trying to make private funds more like registered funds.”
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