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SEC’s FY 2023 Enforcement Actions Yield $5 Billion in Fines from Wall Street and Crypto Giants

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Adobe/Kristina Blokhin

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that its enforcement actions in fiscal year 2023 resulted in nearly $5 billion in fines and reimbursements to investors. 

In a Tuesday press release, the agency said it has targeted Wall Street brokerages as well as major players in the cryptocurrency industry with legal action, filing a total of 784 enforcement actions during the year, marking a 3% increase compared to the previous year.

According to the SEC, the total penalties obtained between October 2022 and September 2023 were the second-highest amount recorded. 

“The investing public benefits from the Division of Enforcement’s work as a cop on the beat,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a comment.

“Last fiscal year’s results demonstrate yet again the Division’s effectiveness—working alongside colleagues throughout the agency—in following the facts and the law wherever they lead to hold wrongdoers accountable.”

SEC Launches Multiple Regulatory Actions Against Crypto Companies

In fiscal year 2023, the SEC launched multiple enforcement actions against some of the biggest players in the industry. 

For one, the agency initiated a civil case against Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder of FTX. 

However, the Department of Justice’s criminal charges against Bankman-Fried have taken precedence over the SEC’s action.

In addition to the case against Bankman-Fried, the SEC filed lawsuits against other major crypto players, including Binance, its CEO Changpeng Zhao, and Coinbase.

All three entities have denied any wrongdoing and have requested the dismissal of the regulator’s cases.

Although crypto-related actions garnered attention due to their high-profile nature, they constituted only a fraction of the SEC’s enforcement division’s workload. 

Throughout 2023, the agency also reached settlements with leading Wall Street brokerages for their use of unmonitored communication channels and took action against auditors for alleged breaches of audit standards.

The SEC’s enforcement actions in fiscal years 2022 and 2021 resulted in record fines of $6.4 billion and $3.9 billion, respectively. 

Gary Gensler Remains a Crypto Critic

Gensler has been a vocal critic of crypto as of late, warning about the crypto industry’s noncompliance.

Back in September, he acknowledged that while not all tokens can be prejudged, a significant portion of the crypto industry falls under securities laws but remains non-compliant.

“This crypto space that much of it, without prejudging any one token, much of it is under the securities laws, but unfortunately, much of it is also non-compliant,” he said.

He claimed that crypto has had a destructive impact on millions of investors who have suffered losses, emphasizing that these problems could potentially extend beyond the crypto industry and affect the broader financial system.

More recently, he issued another warning about the prevalence of fraud in crypto, stating that there are multiple “notorious fraudsters” operating in the space.

“It’s not just about one circumstance and one notorious fraudster, it’s multiple notorious fraudsters,” Gensler said.