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Securities Enforcement Alert: SEC Restores Corporate Penalty Negotiation Powers to Staff

February 10, 2009

On February 6, 2009, in her first speech since becoming Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro announced a significant policy change intended to restore greater power to the SEC’s Enforcement Staff to negotiate penalties against corporations. In her remarks at SEC Speaks, an event held annually by the Practicing Law Institute, Chairman Schapiro said she is ending the SEC’s two year "penalty pilot" program, which had required the Staff to obtain a special set of approvals from the Commission itself before negotiating settlements involving civil monetary penalties for public companies as punishment for securities fraud. Presumably, the Staff will now revert back to its historical practice of first negotiating with a prospective corporate defendant, and then presenting a final recommendation for the Commission’s approval only after reaching agreement with the company on the proposed settlement terms.

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