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    Wall Street’s Top Cop Takes Harder Line

    The Securities and Exchange Commission has ratcheted up its punishment of individuals, more than doubling the typical fine over the past decade amid pressure to prove the agency is tough on Wall Street. The SEC has stepped up its enforcement activity across the board. The agency levied more civil penalties in the first half of this fiscal year, October through March, than over any comparable period since at least 2005, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of the 4,443 penalties imposed by the SEC since October 2004. More in the Wall Street Journal here.

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    Regulators Probe Marketing of Hot Private Tech Shares

    Securities regulators have launched a broad investigation into whether hedge funds and other investors are improperly selling hot private technology stocks amid a boom in the trading of such shares, people close to the probe say. The regulatory scrutiny, which is at an early stage, follows a March article in The Wall Street Journal that delved into the role of middlemen in the burgeoning market for private shares. The investigation, by the Securities and Exchange Commission, is focused on a burst of new activity recently by people selling pre-IPO shares as valuations of private tech companies have exploded and companies have opted to remain private for longer. More in the Wall Street Journal here.

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    Democrats Are Fed Up with the SEC’s Weak Financial Crimefighting

    The progressive movement has declared war on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and its chair, Mary Jo White. An uncoordinated yet scathing series of reports, letters and appeals have honed in on the New Deal-era regulatory body. And the fight is really about the agency’s long-term direction, as vacancies on the commission open up: Will it maintain the same industry-friendly posture of light-touch regulatory enforcement and ineffective rulemaking, or can a shift be made? Given the growing importance of the SEC, reformers are using whatever leverage they have to influence the outcome. You might believe Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 13-page letter to White, expressing personal disappointment with her tenure, kicked off this uproar. But separately, a growing discontent with the SEC has emerged within the financial reform community, and even within the agency itself. Former officials have called the SEC dysfunctional and even warned colleagues from joining up. More on The New Republic here.

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    UPDATE 2-SEC seeks public feedback to inform policy for exchange-traded products

    U.S. securities regulators are asking the public to weigh in on how new and novel exchange-traded products should be listed, marketed and traded, as part of an effort to potentially write new rules for the sector. The Securities and Exchange Commission cited an ever-increasing number of requests by funds to launch new kinds of complex products and investment strategies. “Exchange-traded products have become an increasingly important investment vehicle to market participants ranging from individuals to large institutional investors,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White in a statement. More on Reuters here.

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    Federal Judge Rules SEC In-House Judge’s Appointment ‘Likely Unconstitutional’

    A federal judge ruled Monday that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s use of an in-house judge to preside over an insider-trading case was “likely unconstitutional,” a potential blow to the agency’s controversial use of its internal tribunal. The decision possibly creates a serious headache for the SEC, which is increasingly using its five administrative-law judges to hear its cases, rather than sending them to federal court, legal experts said. Although the ruling was preliminary, and won’t necessarily be duplicated in other federal courts, it could have ramifications for other SEC cases and potentially other federal agencies. More in The Wall Street Journal here.

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