The Securities and Exchange Commission has been criticized lately for not pursuing enough big fish. The SEC may have three on its line.
The SEC is working with other authorities to soon file charges in an investigation combining insider trading and cybersecurity, according to a report in the New York Times. The agency is also investigating the hiring of the children of elite Chinese political figures in a potential bribery case. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and some other big banks have said they are under investigation for their hiring practices in China.
The agency also continues to investigate insider trading accusations surrounding golfer Phil Mickelson and professional sports gambler William T. Walters. That investigation first became public more than a year ago. Mickelson was thought to have been cleared of all wrong doing, but that may not be the case. The New York Times in its report did not mention activist investor Carl Icahn, who in the past has been connected to the probe.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has said that the SEC needs to be more aggressive in pursuing Wall Street banks and has criticized chairwoman Mary Jo White for not enforcing her own policy change more quickly, which requires parties that settle to admit wrongdoing. The agency has also been reproached by the United States Chamber of Commerce for using administrative courts with SEC-appointed judges, giving them an unfair home field advantage.
The SEC has been more active in lower profile cases, but recently have quietly started to pursue bigger cases that could help them redefine their status as Wall Street’s chief regulator.
Also holding the SEC back could an appellate court ruling last December that made insider trading convictions more difficult. The Justice Department filed a petition with the Supreme Court to review the case because it could potentially undermine several previous convictions if it stands, posing a threat to the government.