Let’s Make a Deal: SEC Settlements with Individuals Spike in 2012

NERA Economic Consulting Group’s June 27, 2012 report shows a 20% increase in SEC settlements with individual defendants for the first half of fiscal 2012. This spike is consistent with the SEC’s stated intent to hold more individuals accountable for violations of federal securities laws.

In the first half of 2012, the SEC settled 286 cases with individuals, for a projected annualized 572 settlements. This reflects the highest number of SEC settlements with individual defendants since 2005, most of them related to alleged insider trading, Ponzi-schemes, and public company restatements. The NERA report projects 120 insider trading related settlements in fiscal year 2012, nearly double the 63 settlements in 2011. The report also anticipates 76 Ponzi-scheme related settlements in 2012, as compared to 55 in 2011, and an increase from 60 to 78 restatement related settlements.

As a result of the spike in individual settlements, the total number of SEC settlements is expected to increase by 13% from 2011 to 2012. The report finds a total of 379 settlements in the first half of 2012 and a projected annualized 758 total settlements. This uptick, however, is based solely on individual settlements. Company settlements are expected to decrease marginally, from 196 in 2011 to a projected 186 in 2012.

The median individual settlement value followed a three year upward trend, reaching $190,000 for the first half of fiscal year 2012. The median company settlement value, on the other hand, declined from a record setting $1.5 million in 2011 to an expected $0.8 million in 2012. The largest reported individual settlement for the first half of 2012 was Raj Rajaratnam’s $92.8 million settlement with the SEC, while the largest company settlement was with Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. for $285 million. Judge Rakoff ultimately rejected the Citigroup settlement, and the decision is currently being appealed.