By some measures (well, one, anyway), it looks like the Securities and Exchange Commission is really getting tough on financial crime while under quarantine. And the increase in whistleblower awards would seem to point in that direction. But a look under the hood shows that the impressive total haul was pretty much a volume play. And for all of its hyperactivity, the SEC doesn’t seem to be extracting a particularly punishing levy from those it has now gotten around to dealing with.

For instance, the allegations against private equity firm Ares Management look pretty damning. The firm invested nine figures in a company and got a board seat out of it. Said board member, as such board members are wont to do, kept Ares in the loop about what was going on at the company, and after one such head’s up, Ares bought up another million shares. It seems, to this lawyer’s eye, anyway, like a colorable case of insider trading. But the SEC thought otherwise, instead seeing a case of not following your own rules.

Ares Management LLC has agreed to pay $1 million to settle allegations that it bought stock in one of its portfolio companies while an Ares employee sat on that company’s board and had access to inside information.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Tuesday, saying the stock purchases violated the private-equity firm’s compliance policies….

Los Angeles-based Ares has a compliance policy that requires such stock trades to be reviewed and approved by compliance staff, but the SEC said the policy “failed to account for the special circumstances presented by having an employee serve on the portfolio company’s board while that employee continued to participate in trading decisions regarding the portfolio company….”

With about $149 billion under management, publicly traded Ares is among the largest private-equity firms to be penalized by the SEC in recent years.

That’ll teach’em.

SEC Fines Ares Management $1 Million for Compliance Failures [WSJ]


(Getty Images)

Jay Clayton Not At All Happy With Asset Class He’s Eager To Open To More Marks, Er, Investors

Private equity guys, you’re on notice from a guy with one foot out the door. Or not.

(Getty Images)

Private Equity Firms Don’t Do Things For Free, You Guys

The Securities and Exchange Commission is apparently shocked to learn.

(Getty Images)

So Maybe The SEC Does Need Whistleblowers’ Help?

One soon-to-be-defunct hedge fund was doing all sorts of allegedly improper accounting while the regulator watched.

(Getty Images)

SEC Making Sure Gary Gensler Will Feel Right At Home

You can authorize and investigation and you can authorize an investigation and you and you and you, too!

(Getty Images)

Trump Administration’s Commitment To Transparency On Full Display At SEC

Why should the public know what its government is up to, anyway?

car dealer

Maybe It Wasn’t Such A Great Idea To Fire A Guy Who Knew About The Ponzi Payments You Were (Allegedly) Making

Because in addition to “unemployed,” he can also now call himself “whistleblower.”

(Getty Images)

SEC Charges Alleged Mastermind Of Made-Up Stuff With Fraud

According to the authorities, when Eric Malley wasn’t pontificating on cryptos, he was conjuring imaginary real estate investment funds.