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SEC moves to enact tougher penalities

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, in a letter sent to senators late Monday, asked Congress to pursue legislation that changes the legal formulas used by the agency to calculate penalties. Ms. Schapiro’s proposals would allow the SEC to impose fines up to nine times greater than the maximum currently allowed by U.S. law.

The changes would include increasing the maximum penalty to triple the net profit made as a result of the alleged wrongdoing, up from the current limit of no more than the profit. Ms. Schapiro also sought power to further triple penalties for repeat offenders, or firms or individuals who have been the subject of another SEC enforcement action or criminal conviction in the previous five years.