About the Division of Enforcement
Aug. 1, 2007
The Division of Enforcement was created in August 1972 to consolidate enforcement activities that previously had been handled by the various operating divisions at the Commission's headquarters in Washington. The Commission's enforcement staff conducts investigations into possible violations of the federal securities laws, and litigates the Commission's civil enforcement proceedings in the federal courts and in administrative proceedings.
In civil suits, the Commission seeks injunctions, which are orders that prohibit future violations; a person who violates an injunction is subject to fines or imprisonment for contempt. In addition, the Commission often seeks civil money penalties and the disgorgement of illegal profits. In certain circumstances, the Commission also may seek, among other things, a court order barring or suspending individuals from acting as corporate officers or directors. Releases describing the Commission’s litigation in federal district court are posted on this site.
The Commission can bring a variety of administrative proceedings, which are heard by hearing officers and the Commission. One type of proceeding, for a cease and desist order, may be instituted against any person who violates the federal securities laws. With respect to regulated entities (e.g., brokers, dealers and investment advisers) and their employees, the Commission may institute administrative proceedings to, among other things, revoke or suspend registration, or to impose bars or suspensions from employment. In both cease-and-desist proceedings and administrative proceedings against regulated persons, the Commission is authorized, among other things, to order the payment of civil penalties and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. Certain industry, associational, and conduct-related bars may also be available. Releases related to recently-instituted or settled cease-and-desist proceedings and administrative proceedings are posted on this site. This site also contains Initial Decisions issued by hearing officers in contested cases, and Commission Opinions on appeal from enforcement actions and disciplinary proceedings by self-regulatory organizations (e.g., the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or the New York Stock Exchange). For more information on administrative proceedings and cease-and-desist proceedings, please refer to the Commission's Rules of Practice.
The Commission's mandate is to protect investors. While in some cases, ill-gotten gains disgorged by defendants are returned to defrauded investors, the Commission is not authorized to act on behalf of individual investors. If you believe you have been defrauded, you should discuss the matter with a private attorney who is familiar with securities laws to ensure that your rights are protected under federal and state law.
This site contains information about reporting fraud (fraudulent stock offerings, manipulations, or other conduct in violation of the securities laws), including the Commission’s Office of the Whistleblower, which has information on the Commission’s whistleblower program. If you have a dispute with your broker, you may wish to consult the Web page for the Commission's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, which has information on resolving such disputes (and avoiding them in future). In addition, investors can quickly and easily check whether people selling investments are registered by using the SEC’s investor.gov website.
Applying to the Division of Enforcement
Attorneys entering the Division typically have two to five years of post J.D. work experience as a practicing attorney, one year of which includes analyzing complex legal and/or factual issues, or conducting significant investigations or litigation. Attorneys also typically have knowledge of federal securities laws, though it is not required.
If you are an attorney, and would like to seek Direct Hire consideration with the Division in our Washington, DC office, please submit your resume to HO-ENF-Hiring@SEC.Gov. In the Washington, DC office, we hire attorneys at two levels, SK-11 and SK-13. The application page describes the different requirements for each position. Please specify in the email attaching your resume whether you would like to be considered for the SK-11 or SK-13 position. If you do not specify which position, we will consider your application incomplete.
If you are a rising third year law student or currently have a qualifying judicial clerkship or fellowship, and would like to learn about a full time position via the Chair’s Attorneys Honors Program, announcements are typically posted on USAJOBS the August preceding the year for which you are seeking employment.