Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White wants to see improvements in how securities regulators around the world work together to combat securities fraud.
Speaking via videoconference to the Annual Forum of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on March 24, White noted that the current Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMOU)—which was drafted and agreed to by members of International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO)in 2002—has served its purpose well.
To underscore that point, White noted that in the SEC’s last fiscal year the agency asked regulators in other countries for help more than 700 times and responded to requests for assistance more than 500 times. Most of the cooperation came in the context of the MMOU, she said, though the U.S. also has bilateral agreements in place with some countries, including Australia.
Nonetheless, White said that given advances in technology, it’s time to update the MMOU.
“We must ensure that what may have been international norms and best practices in 2002, do not remain static,” White said. “We need to make sure that the MMOU enables each of us to get all of the evidence we need, when we need it, in order to investigate and prosecute cross-border offenses to the fullest extent of our laws.
“I am glad,” she added, “that IOSCO is considering an enhanced MMOU to broaden the types of information that can be obtained and to streamline the process. I hope to see a stronger new agreement that will expand our investigative reach on the international front.”
White also told conference attendees that she regrets that SEC does not have as much authority as she would like to penalize wrongdoing. She noted that that she has pushed to increase the SEC’s maximum civil penalties, which now stand at $160,000 per violation for an individual and $775,000 for companies.