Risk & Compliance

SEC Boosting Big-Company Caseload

Commission is spurred by an eagerness to take on Fortune 500 fraud cases and a bigger budget with which to pursue them.
Stephen TaubMarch 9, 2004

The Securities and Exchange Commission has many of the largest companies in its crosshairs.

Susan Markel, SEC Enforcement Division chief accountant, said over the weekend that the regulatory agency is bringing more financial fraud cases against big-name, Fortune 500 companies, according to Reuters.

For example, last year the SEC brought 199 financial cases, and 34 of them involved Fortune 500 companies, or 17 percent of the total.

That compares favorably with the total of 79 financial fraud cases in 1998. Only four of those cases — just 5 percent — involved the 500 largest companies, according to the report.

Why the eagerness to take on the biggest corporations? “In part, it’s our willingness to take on the larger cases and it’s also the resources we’ve been given to pursue them,” Markel told reportedly told journalists at a conference in Washington.

About those increased resources: the SEC last year received a huge increase in its budget, to $716 million from $540 million in 2002. In February, the commission asked Congress to boost its budget to $913 million for fiscal 2005.