SEC boasts record-breaking year for enforcement actions

SEC boasts record-breaking year for enforcement actions
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The country's top financial watchdog targeted more cases of alleged abuse in fiscal 2016 than ever before.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced Tuesday that it fielded 868 enforcement actions against investment advisers and companies, lawyers and firms involved in trading and public finance, scoring more than $4 billion in penalties in the year.

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The SEC touted high-profile insider trading, financial reporting and securities cases against major firms, including Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan.

"By every measure the enforcement program continues to be a resounding success holding executives, companies and market participants accountable for their illegal actions," said SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White.

White credited part of the success to "new data analytics to uncover fraud, enhancing our ability to litigate tough cases, and expanding the playbook bringing novel and significant actions to better protect investors and our markets."

The SEC also set a record for whistleblower rewards in fiscal 2016, which ended Sept. 30.

The agency awarded more than $57 million to 13 individuals who exposed wrongdoing within their own firms. The money awarded in the fiscal year is more than the agency gave out in total through the whistleblower program in previous years.