The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversees the key participants in the securities world, including securities exchanges, securities brokers and dealers, and investment advisors. The SEC also mointors activities involving securities, variable annuities, and mutual funds. The SEC is concerned primarily with promoting the disclosure of important market-related information, maintaining fair dealing, and protecting against fraud. This can apply to unregistered ("exempt") securities and private placements.
The SEC, in investigating potential violations of the securities laws, can either institute an informal investigation or a formal enforcement proceeding. SEC investigations are civil enforcement actions and usually seek injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and civil money penalties. Once the SEC institutes a formal enforcement proceeding, it files a civil action in federal court. In 2005, the SEC initiated 947 investigations, 335 civil proceedings, and 294 administrative proceedings.
Given the stakes of an SEC investigation, no one should attempt to deal with the SEC on their own. Heurlin Sherlock has extensive experience in working with the SEC. Heurlin Sherlock understands how the SEC operates as an agency and its unique rules, practices, and customs. Heurlin Sherlock provides the necessary experience and judgment gained from handling complex cases brought by the SEC.
Self-regulatory organizations (SROs), such as the American Stock Exchange (AMEX), the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the National Futures Association (NFA), and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), are non-government organizations that have the responsibility for regulating their own members through the adoption and enforcement of rules of conduct for fair, ethical, and efficient practices.
Heurlin Sherlock attorneys are also experienced in representing individuals being investigated by the Securities Division of the Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona's version of the SEC.
In the wake of significant financial and accounting scandals over the past several years, the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 was signed into law. Commonly known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Act is considered to be the most significant change to the federal securities laws in the United States since the original securities laws of the 1930's.
The goal of the Act is to protect investors and restore confidence in the financial markets by improving the reliability of corporate financial disclosures. SOX significantly raises the standards of corporate transparency and accountability. It requires CEO's and CFO's to certify financial filings and internal controls. These standards are coupled with serious criminal and civil sanctions. The potential liability for officers and directors is much greater under the new Sarbanes-Oxley environment than ever before.
With the passage of the SOX, the SEC, has seen significant increases in its enforcement budgets. With increased means, the SEC has significantly stepped up its enforcement actions against corporate officers and directors alleged to have violated the provisions of SOX.
There are more than 12,000 publicly traded companies subject to the rigorous requirements of SOX. Many of these companies are not large companies. Securities laws like SOX are complex and confusing. In fiscal year 2005, the SEC received authorization for a $913 million budget. In addition, the SEC has an imposing staff of almost 4,000 people.
Because the SEC can seek to bar company officers and members of boards of directors from serving in such capacity in the future for alleged violations of federal securities laws, no company, officer, or director should attempt to handle an SEC investigation without experienced counsel.
Heurlin Sherlock understands the new corporate compliance environment. Heurlin Sherlock has extensive experience representing corporate officers and directors in complex investigations, federal injunction actions, informal enforcement inquiries, and administrative proceedings brought by the SEC.
Heurlin Sherlock also has extensive experience representing individuals and entities in cases dealing with SROs. Heurlin Sherlock has handled various cases with registered representatives against broker dealers, and broker dealers and registered representatives under investigation by SROs.
Bruce R. Heurlin, one of the firm's founding shareholders, began his career at the United States Department of Justice and later became an Assistant United States Attorney. Bruce Heurlin worked as both a federal criminal prosecutor and in the U.S. Attorney's Office Civil Section. Bruce Heurlin has many years experience as an attorney and has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America and one of the Best Lawyers in Tucson in the area of Business Litigation and a Southwest Super Lawyer.
Heurlin Sherlock will provide you with the highest quality representation to help you through the process of an SEC investigation or handling cases with SROs. For an initial consultation of your case, please call Heurlin Sherlock or visit our website at www.aztoplawyers.com.