This week the Supreme Court trimmed the SEC’s power to seek disgorgement of unlawful gains by securities law violators by unanimously holding in Kokesh v. Securities and Exchange Commission that SEC disgorgement constitutes a penalty and such claims must be brought within five years of their accrual. This decision resolved the circuit split described in a previous post.

SEC Does Not Have Limitless Power to Impose Penalties

Kokesh involved the SEC’s effort to collect $34.9 million in disgorgement for conduct going back as far as 1995, and an additional $18.1 million in prejudgment interest. The Court noted that statutes of limitations are “vital to the welfare of society” and set a fixed date when exposure to Government enforcement efforts end.
Continue Reading

In a somewhat rare decision, U.S. District Judge Gardephe of the SDNY granted a motion to stay his previous order regarding the scope of the SEC’s ability to subpoena information from Congress, pending its appeal to the Second Circuit.  As noted in our previous post, the SEC is investigating the House Ways and Means