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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

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The reason is simple: clients want white glove service, and lawyers who can win. Every single client who works with the Spodek Law Group is aware that the attorney they hire could drastically change the outcome of their case. Hiring the Spodek Law Group means you’re taking your future seriously. Our lawyers handle cases nationwide, ranging from NYC to LA. Our philosophy is fair and simple: our nyc criminal lawyers only take on clients who we know will benefit from our services.

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understanding sec investigations

By Spodek Law Group | July 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 28, 2023)

Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:32 pm

Understanding SEC Investigations: A Detailed Guide

Allegations of securities fraud, insider trading, accounting manipulations, or other corporate malfeasance often trigger SEC investigations. These complex inquiries can lead to huge fines, damaged reputations, and permanent bars from the industry. Targets hardly know where to turn when investigators start asking questions.

This comprehensive guide breaks down the SEC enforcement process and how best to respond. We’ll explore:

  • How the SEC initiates investigations
  • Steps in a typical SEC investigation
  • SEC enforcement capabilities
  • Strategies for responding to SEC inquiries
  • How to find the right SEC defense attorney
  • Avoiding common mistakes when dealing with the SEC

Gaining clarity on SEC investigative processes allows you to make informed decisions when engulfed in an inquiry. Experienced counsel can help guide you through the complexities.

How the SEC Initiates Investigations

SEC inquiries can originate from many sources, including:

  • Stock exchange referrals of suspicious trading patterns.
  • Whistleblower complaints by employees or competitors.
  • Media reports and other public tips.
  • Review of mandatory corporate disclosures and filings.
  • Routine examinations of brokerages, advisors, funds, and issuers.
  • Law enforcement agency requests to support criminal probes.

The SEC is constantly sifting through vast amounts of data across markets looking for anomalies. Even baseless accusations must be reviewed, especially if credible on their face.

Steps in a Typical SEC Investigation

While all SEC probes have unique twists, they tend to follow a general pattern:

Preliminary inquiry – SEC enforcement staff review initial suspicion indicators and public documents to determine if a formal investigation is warranted. At this stage, the target is unaware.

Formal order of investigation – Higher-level SEC authorization permits use of subpoenas and other discovery tools to gather non-public evidence.

Notice of investigation – The target individual or company receives a subpoena or letter informing them of the SEC investigation. This is the first realization for most.

Information gathering – Using subpoenas, testimony, interviews and data analysis, SEC builds its case. Attorneys can negotiate limits and assert privileges.

Wells notice – SEC staff present preliminary charges and likely sanctions. Defense counsel gets a chance to rebut before enforcement recommendations advance.

Action decision – Ultimately SEC staff propose a settlement or authorize filing a federal complaint. Attorneys may negotiate lesser penalties pre-filing.

Resolution – The commission votes to accept a settlement or litigation proceeds seeking fines and remedies in court.

Enforcement matters often take years, but waiting for resolution without experienced counsel is fraught with risk.

SEC Enforcement Capabilities and Tactics

Unlike private litigation, SEC has unique powers that make investigations highly intrusive:

  • Subpoena authority – SEC can compel testimony and production of nearly any documents.
  • Leverage over regulated entities – SEC has direct oversight of brokerages, advisors, funds, and issuers.
  • Sweeping data gathering – Electronic analysis of trading records, phone logs, emails, bank records.
  • Power to restrict trading and freeze assets.
  • Ability to suspend licenses, bans, and memberships.
  • Authority to coordinate with criminal agencies.

Experienced SEC defense counsel can often push back against overreach while cooperating appropriately. Never disregard subpoenas.

Strategies for Responding to SEC Inquiries

Reacting properly when notified of an SEC investigation is critical. The wrong moves can quickly escalate things while cooperation and assertiveness can mitigate concerns. Effective responses include:

  • Being truthful and transparent while also protecting sensitive information.
  • Conducting a thorough internal investigation to understand the issues.
  • Asserting privileges and confidentiality to prevent oversharing.
  • Avoiding obstruction charges by retaining documents and data.
  • Presenting exculpatory evidence and context to investigators.
  • Seeking prompt settlement if violations occurred but were not willful.

The right defense strategy depends heavily on the case specifics and risk tolerance. Move hastily but with care.

How to Find the Right SEC Defense Attorney

retain appropriately experienced counsel immediately upon learning of an SEC investigation. Look for lawyers with specific SEC enforcement backgrounds from among:

  • Big law firms – Have ample resources and connections but can be expensive.
  • Boutique securities law practices – Specialize in this niche with targeted expertise.
  • Former SEC attorneys – Offer unique insights into investigator approaches.
  • Litigators and trial attorneys – Crucial if the case may go to court.
  • Local counsel – Important for establishing relationships with SEC office.

Ask candid questions about the lawyer’s specific SEC case experience, volume of enforcement work, trial record, and working rapport with SEC staff. A strong grasp of securities laws and corporate compliance is foundational. An SEC case is no place for on-the-job training, so vet counsel thoroughly.

Avoiding Common Mistakes When Dealing with the SEC

The adage about anything you say to investigators being used against you is especially true in SEC inquiries. Don’t fall into these traps:

  • Lying or purposely omitting material facts – This often constitutes obstruction of justice.
  • Destroying or concealing documents – Another obstruction danger.
  • Meeting SEC without attorney present – Statements get misconstrued.
  • Believing you can cooperate your way out of charges – Admissions will be leveraged.
  • Submitting misleading disclosure edits hoping SEC won’t notice – They will.
  • Rushing to testify in hopes of ending investigation quickly – Testimony locks in record.

The SEC wields immense influence over careers and companies. Tread very carefully.

Work Closely with Counsel to Avoid SEC Charges

In dealing with a formidable foe like the SEC, mounting a vigorous defense requires experience and nerves of steel. The most successful outcomes result from assertive and smart engagement fueled by intimate case knowledge.

Yet avoiding missteps also demands restraint, discipline and strategic thinking. Letting fear push you into rash moves often compounds problems. Partner with SEC-savvy counsel to make the right calculated decisions at every stage.

While the SEC justifiably prosecutes clear violations, they also recognize honest mistakes. With tightly controlled responses and effective negotiations by counsel, charges often get reduced or avoided. Don’t go it alone and risk your future. Engage experienced attorneys to protect your interests from day one.

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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