Trump's business watchdog has seemingly eased up on corporate crackdowns

Jay claytonChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesSEC Chair Jay Clayton
  • Jay Clayton took over the Securities and Exchange Commission in May, after Obama appointee Mary Jo White stepped down in January.
  • From February through September of this year, the SEC collected $US127 million in civil case penalties against corporations, according to a report from Politico. This is down from $US702 million during the same period last year.
  • Clayton has reportedly shifted the SEC’s focus from corporations to fraud involving retail investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission appears to taken its foot off the gas when it comes to cracking down on corporations, according to a new report.

An analysis from Politico’s Patrick Temple-West showed that the SEC collected $US127 million from 15 corporate civil case penalties from February through September compared to $US702 million from 43 cases during the same period last year.

Jay Clayton, an appointee of President Donald Trump who has represented a number of Wall Street banks, took over the agency from Mary Jo White at the end of the Obama administration.

The Politico report said Clayton and the SEC have taken a particular focus on companies’ actions that affect retail or smaller investors rather than focusing on larger corporate cases.

SEC officials have denied the shift has drawn the agency’s focus away from large companies. But Politico reported that some officials admitted that limited resources due to budget cuts would make it difficult to maintain corporate investigations while shifting focus to retail enforcement.

Clayton said he prefers to avoid corporate penalties because it harms shareholders of public companies rather than just the perpetrators of the actions, according to the report.

The SEC denied that there had been a substantial change in philosophy in a statement to Politico and said the enforcement penalties were “arbitrarily selected data.”

Check out the full report at Politico »

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