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Office of International Affairs
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) promotes investor protection, cross-border securities transactions and fair, efficient and transparent markets by advancing international regulatory and enforcement cooperation, promoting the adoption of high regulatory standards worldwide, and formulating technical assistance programs to strengthen the regulatory infrastructure in global financial markets.
These efforts increased significantly after the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The crisis demonstrated how closely capital markets around the globe are interconnected as well as their fundamental importance to the world's economies. The crisis also demonstrated that facilitating international cooperation and coordination is critical in helping to ensure the effectiveness of financial regulatory reform efforts, to develop high regulatory standards across jurisdictions, and to minimize regulatory gaps.
To this end, OIA works with a global network of securities regulators and law enforcement authorities to facilitate cross-border regulatory compliance and help ensure that international borders are not used to escape detection and prosecution of fraudulent securities activities. Using OIA staff's understanding of international markets and foreign law and regulations, OIA provides the Commission and SEC staff with advice and assistance in international enforcement and regulatory matters.
The work of OIA is divided into five major workstreams:
International Enforcement Assistance
OIA provides advice on and assists with cross-border securities investigations and prosecutions and negotiates international information-sharing arrangements with foreign regulators and law enforcement agencies. Foreign authorities may obtain information about seeking the SEC's enforcement counsel and assistance here.
International Regulatory Policy
OIA advances the SEC's interests in a number of international organizations and bilateral dialogues. SEC staff participation in international workstreams has increased dramatically following the financial crisis because of the resulting change in the international financial architecture. SEC staff actively promotes and protects, daily, the SEC's mission and interests in these international workstreams.
Comparative Law and Regulation
OIA analyzes the impact of SEC rules and actions upon foreign market participants active in US markets and advises the Commission regarding the manner in which SEC and non-US initiatives affect the cross-border activities of issuers and financial service providers, whether foreign or domestic, registered with the SEC.
International Technical Assistance
OIA conducts training and technical assistance programs in the United States and overseas for foreign securities and law enforcement authorities. These technical assistance programs are designed to share with foreign authorities the substantive experience and knowledge of SEC staff and to foster discussion about regulatory reform and other policies to strengthen regulatory frameworks. Foreign authorities may use this site to request technical assistance, access technical assistance materials, and view past and upcoming training programs.
Cooperative Arrangements with Foreign Regulators
Enforcement cooperation is among the top priorities of the SEC's international program. Strong international cooperation is vital to the quick, effective and appropriate resolution of international enforcement investigations. To this end, OIA has negotiated over 20 bilateral enforcement memoranda of understanding. In addition, in 2002, SEC actively supported the creation of the IOSCO Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMOU), the first global information-sharing arrangement for enforcement cooperation among securities regulators. The SEC was among the initial signatories to the MMOU, which has proven instrumental in allowing regulators to share information in order to investigate and prosecute violations of securities laws.
The SEC has entered into a number of information sharing arrangements to facilitate supervisory cooperation with foreign regulators. These memoranda of understanding for supervisory cooperation establish clear mechanisms for consultation, cooperation and the exchange of supervisory information among regulators. Such mechanisms reduce the need to address supervisory information sharing among regulators on an ad hoc basis and seek to address new information sharing needs created by globally active firms and cross-border affiliated markets.
International Training and Policy Materials