Since the financial crisis broke, the Securities and Exchange Commission has acted against more than 100 people and firms whose wrongdoing contributed to the crisis. The agency crossed a milestone last week when it filed civil fraud charges against 2 former bank executives who were charged with using a loan modification scheme to ‘whitewash’ real estate loans. However, criticism that the agency is not doing enough to crack down on companies responsible for the financial meltdown, continue.
The Securities and Exchange Commission insists that the agency’s record in tackling a total of 101 cases to date, shows that the agency is really serious about punishing the kind of wrongdoing that caused the biggest financial crisis in recent memory. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, it has filed 74 cases against individuals so far, and has gone after several top ranking officials, including chief executives and financial officers. The agency believes that targeting high-level officials in this manner sends a strong message, and acts as a deterrent.
However, California securities fraud lawyers believe that the agency’s actions have been too mild to be effective, or act as a deterrent. Part of the criticism has been that the agency has rushed into settlements with companies that have been accused of wrongdoing. In many cases, the settlements have resulted in the company only being fined, and admitting to no wrongdoing.
A case in point is the lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corp. executive Angelo Mozilo. In October 2010, he settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and as part of the settlement, agreed to pay $67.5 million but admitted to no wrongdoing.
Such settlements that are soft on the defendant do not serve as a deterrent to other companies at all.