U.S. securities regulator moves to speed up process for probes

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FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

February 10, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has restored senior officers’ ability to kick off formal investigations without the approval of the enforcement division’s leadership, in a bid to more swiftly detect fraud, it said on Tuesday.

The move gives power to senior officers in the SEC’s enforcement division to authorize staff to subpoena documents and take sworn testimony, acting chair Allison Herren Lee said in the statement.

The delegation of the authority comes a month after the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Under the previous administration, the enforcement division’s two co-directors had to approve orders to kick off any formal probes.

“Returning this authority to the division’s experienced senior officers … helps to ensure that investigative staff can work effectively to protect investors in an era when the pace of fraud – like the pace of markets themselves – is ever more rapid,” Lee said in Tuesday’s statement.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Graff)

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