SEC total enforcement activity down slightly in 2021

By James Langton | November 19, 2021 | Last updated on November 19, 2021
1 min read
gavel on a wooden bench

Total enforcement activity by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) slipped a bit in fiscal 2021, according to the agency’s latest report.

The SEC brought 697 total enforcement actions during the fiscal year (to Sept. 30), which was down 3% from the previous year.

Within that total, the agency brought 434 new actions, which was up 7% from 2020, along with 120 actions against issuers with delinquent regulatory filings, and 143 “follow-on” proceedings seeking bans based on criminal convictions, civil injunctions or other orders.

SEC enforcement activity generated US$2.4 billion in disgorgement orders in 2021, which was down 33% from the prior year, and more than US$1.4 billion in penalties, up 33% from 2020.

Beneath the headline case numbers, the SEC brought a number of novel actions involving alleged misconduct in the crypto market and the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sector.

“The SEC’s whistleblower program was critical to these efforts and had a record-breaking year,” it noted.

For fiscal 2021 the agency’s whistleblower program paid out a total of US$564 million to 108 whistleblowers, pushing the program to over US$1 billion in awards since it launched.

“This year has seen a number of critically important and first-of-their-kind enforcement actions, as well as record-breaking achievements for our whistleblower program, which we expect will lead to even more successful actions in the future,” said Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, in a release.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.