For fiscal year 2023, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed 784 enforcement actions and received $4.9 billion in penalties.
Of this amount, the SEC distributed $930 million among the affected investors. During the reporting period, the SEC received a record 18,000 reports of violations, which is almost 50% more than last year.
In total, more than 40,000 complaints and requests were sent to the regulator. The agency paid over $600 million to informants who reported illegal activities.
Among the largest fines is a $400 million settlement from Wells Fargo, HSBC and Scotia Capital for violations of federal record-keeping and customer protection requirements. Also listed in SEC filings is $178.6 million from Danske Bank for misleading investors about its anti-money laundering program.
The SEC used its criminal asset freeze powers twice in 2023. First against a Florida resident for creating a $100 million pyramid scheme, and then against Miami-based investment consultant BKCoin Management in connection with a $100 million crypto scam.
The SEC report said that major crypto fraud charges were filed during the year, particularly against the company Terraform Labs and its founder Do Kwon, Richard Hurt and three companies he controls – Hex, PulseChain and PulseX and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and other firm executives.
It also noted lawsuits against companies that allegedly offered unregistered securities through crypto asset lending or staking programs.