(a) Investigation of violations
Whenever it shall appear to the Commission, either upon complaint or otherwise, that the provisions of this subchapter, or of any rule or regulation prescribed under authority thereof, have been or are about to be violated, it may, in its discretion, either require or permit such person to file with it a statement in writing, under oath, or otherwise, as to all the facts and circumstances concerning the subject matter which it believes to be in the public interest to investigate, and may investigate such facts.
(b) Action for injunction or criminal prosecution in district court
Terms Used In 15 USC 77t
- Commission: means the Securities and Exchange Commission. See 15 USC 77b
- Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
- dealer: means any person who engages either for all or part of his time, directly or indirectly, as agent, broker, or principal, in the business of offering, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing or trading in securities issued by another person. See 15 USC 77b
- Defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
- Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
- Fraud: Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.
- Injunction: An order of the court prohibiting (or compelling) the performance of a specific act to prevent irreparable damage or injury.
- issuer: means every person who issues or proposes to issue any security. See 15 USC 77b
- Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
- officer: includes any person authorized by law to perform the duties of the office. See 1 USC 1
- person: means an individual, a corporation, a partnership, an association, a joint-stock company, a trust, any unincorporated organization, or a government or political subdivision thereof. See 15 USC 77b
- prospectus: means any prospectus, notice, circular, advertisement, letter, or communication, written or by radio or television, which offers any security for sale or confirms the sale of any security. See 15 USC 77b
- security: means any note, stock, treasury stock, security future, security-based swap, bond, debenture, evidence of indebtedness, certificate of interest or participation in any profit-sharing agreement, collateral-trust certificate, preorganization certificate or subscription, transferable share, investment contract, voting-trust certificate, certificate of deposit for a security, fractional undivided interest in oil, gas, or other mineral rights, any put, call, straddle, option, or privilege on any security, certificate of deposit, or group or index of securities (including any interest therein or based on the value thereof), or any put, call, straddle, option, or privilege entered into on a national securities exchange relating to foreign currency, or, in general, any interest or instrument commonly known as a "security" or any certificate of interest or participation in, temporary or interim certificate for, receipt for, guarantee of, or warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase, any of the foregoing. See 15 USC 77b
- Territory: means Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the insular possessions of the United States. See 15 USC 77b
- Writ: A formal written command, issued from the court, requiring the performance of a specific act.
- writing: includes printing and typewriting and reproductions of visual symbols by photographing, multigraphing, mimeographing, manifolding, or otherwise. See 1 USC 1
Whenever it shall appear to the Commission that any person is engaged or about to engage in any acts or practices which constitute or will constitute a violation of the provisions of this subchapter, or of any rule or regulation prescribed under authority thereof, the Commission may, in its discretion, bring an action in any district court of the United States, or United States court of any Territory, to enjoin such acts or practices, and upon a proper showing, a permanent or temporary injunction or restraining order shall be granted without bond. The Commission may transmit such evidence as may be available concerning such acts or practices to the Attorney General who may, in his discretion, institute the necessary criminal proceedings under this subchapter. Any such criminal proceeding may be brought either in the district wherein the transmittal of the prospectus or security complained of begins, or in the district wherein such prospectus or security is received.
(c) Writ of mandamus
Upon application of the Commission, the district courts of the United States and the United States courts of any Territory shall have jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus commanding any person to comply with the provisions of this subchapter or any order of the Commission made in pursuance thereof.
(d) Money penalties in civil actions
(1) Authority of Commission
Whenever it shall appear to the Commission that any person has violated any provision of this subchapter, the rules or regulations thereunder, or a cease-and-desist order entered by the Commission pursuant to section 77h-1 of this title, other than by committing a violation subject to a penalty pursuant to section 78u-1 of this title, the Commission may bring an action in a United States district court to seek, and the court shall have jurisdiction to impose, upon a proper showing, a civil penalty to be paid by the person who committed such violation.
(2) Amount of penalty
(A) First tier
The amount of the penalty shall be determined by the court in light of the facts and circumstances. For each violation, the amount of the penalty shall not exceed the greater of (i) $5,000 for a natural person or $50,000 for any other person, or (ii) the gross amount of pecuniary gain to such defendant as a result of the violation.
(B) Second tier
Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the amount of penalty for each such violation shall not exceed the greater of (i) $50,000 for a natural person or $250,000 for any other person, or (ii) the gross amount of pecuniary gain to such defendant as a result of the violation, if the violation described in paragraph (1) involved fraud, deceit, manipulation, or deliberate or reckless disregard of a regulatory requirement.
(C) Third tier
Notwithstanding subparagraphs (A) and (B), the amount of penalty for each such violation shall not exceed the greater of (i) $100,000 for a natural person or $500,000 for any other person, or (ii) the gross amount of pecuniary gain to such defendant as a result of the violation, if–
(I) the violation described in paragraph (1) involved fraud, deceit, manipulation, or deliberate or reckless disregard of a regulatory requirement; and
(II) such violation directly or indirectly resulted in substantial losses or created a significant risk of substantial losses to other persons.
(3) Procedures for collection
(A) Payment of penalty to Treasury
A penalty imposed under this section shall be payable into the Treasury of the United States, except as otherwise provided in section 7246 of this title and section 78u-6 of this title.
(B) Collection of penalties
If a person upon whom such a penalty is imposed shall fail to pay such penalty within the time prescribed in the court’s order, the Commission may refer the matter to the Attorney General who shall recover such penalty by action in the appropriate United States district court.
(C) Remedy not exclusive
The actions authorized by this subsection may be brought in addition to any other action that the Commission or the Attorney General is entitled to bring.
(D) Jurisdiction and venue
For purposes of section 77v of this title, actions under this section shall be actions to enforce a liability or a duty created by this subchapter.
(4) Special provisions relating to a violation of a cease-and-desist order
In an action to enforce a cease-and-desist order entered by the Commission pursuant to section 77h-1 of this title, each separate violation of such order shall be a separate offense, except that in the case of a violation through a continuing failure to comply with such an order, each day of the failure to comply with the order shall be deemed a separate offense.
(e) Authority of court to prohibit persons from serving as officers and directors
In any proceeding under subsection (b), the court may prohibit, conditionally or unconditionally, and permanently or for such period of time as it shall determine, any person who violated section 77q(a)(1) of this title from acting as an officer or director of any issuer that has a class of securities registered pursuant to section 78l of this title or that is required to file reports pursuant to section 78o(d) of this title if the person’s conduct demonstrates unfitness to serve as an officer or director of any such issuer.
(f) Prohibition of attorneys’ fees paid from Commission disgorgement funds
Except as otherwise ordered by the court upon motion by the Commission, or, in the case of an administrative action, as otherwise ordered by the Commission, funds disgorged as the result of an action brought by the Commission in Federal court, or as a result of any Commission administrative action, shall not be distributed as payment for attorneys’ fees or expenses incurred by private parties seeking distribution of the disgorged funds.
(g) Authority of a court to prohibit persons from participating in an offering of penny stock
(1) In general
In any proceeding under subsection (a) against any person participating in, or, at the time of the alleged misconduct, who was participating in, an offering of penny stock, the court may prohibit that person from participating in an offering of penny stock, conditionally or unconditionally, and permanently or for such period of time as the court shall determine.
For purposes of this subsection, the term “person participating in an offering of penny stock” includes any person engaging in activities with a broker, dealer, or issuer for purposes of issuing, trading, or inducing or attempting to induce the purchase or sale of, any penny stock. The Commission may, by rule or regulation, define such term to include other activities, and may, by rule, regulation, or order, exempt any person or class of persons, in whole or in part, conditionally or unconditionally, from inclusion in such term.