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On Feb. 27, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a unanimous ruling in Gabelli v. SEC that actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for civil penalties must be brought within five years from the date on which the claim first accrued, as opposed to five years from discovery of the underlying wrongful conduct. The five-year limitations period is based upon 28 U.S.C. § 2462 – Time for Commencing Proceedings, which applies to actions for civil penalties where the federal statute upon which the claim is based does not contain its own statute of limitations. An issue not reached by the Supreme Court’s Gabelli decision, however, is whether Section 2462 applies to suits in which the government is seeking equitable relief, as opposed to civil penalties. The lower federal courts have reached varying conclusions on this issue. 

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