June 3, 2020

June 02, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

June 01, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

What are SEC Sanctions and Penalties?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) obtains billions of dollars each year in monetary sanctions from wrongdoers. As a part of the SEC’s enforcement responsibilities, it issues orders and administers judgements ordering securities violators to, among other things:

  • Disgorge, or pay back, ill-gotten gains in order to return the funds to harmed investors;

  • Pay civil monetary penalties (see the calculation of civil monetary penalties); and

  • Pay interest (prejudgement and potentially post judgement).

The calculation of monetary sanctions is critically important to SEC whistleblowers. Under the Dodd-Frank Act’s SEC Whistleblower Program, the SEC will issue awards to whistleblowers who provide original information that leads to a successful SEC enforcement actions with total monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million. A whistleblower may receive an award of between 10% and 30% of the total monetary sanctions collected, which can lead to substantial awards. The largest SEC whistleblower awards to date are $50 million, $39 million and $37 million. 

Year-By-Year Total SEC Sanctions Since FY ’04

Annually, the SEC announces the total monetary sanctions obtained from successful enforcement actions. The table below identifies the total illegal profits that securities violators were required to disgorge and the total penalties they were required to pay.

Fiscal Year




$2.506 billion

$1.439 billion


$2.957 billion

$832 million


$2.809 billion

$1.273 billion


$3.019 billion

$1.175 billion


$4.16 billion total

$4.16 billion total


$2.257 billion

$1.167 billion


$2.083 billion

$1.021 billion


$1.878 billion

$928 million


$1.82 billion

$1.03 billion


$2.09 billion

$345 million


$774 million

$256 million


$1.093 billion

$507 million


$2.3 billion

$975 million


$1.6 billion

$1.5 billion


$1.9 billion

$1.2 billion

For more information on SEC sanctions, see a recent speech by the SEC’s Division of Enforcement: Remedies and Relief in SEC Enforcement Actions

© 2020 Zuckerman Law


About this Author

Jason Zuckerman, Whistleblower Litigation Attorney, Washington DC  Law Firm

Described by the National Law Journal as a “leading whistleblower attorney,” Jason Zuckerman litigates whistleblowe r retaliation, whistleblower rewards, wrongful discharge, and other employment-related claims. His practice focuses on representing senior executives and senior professionals in high-...

(202) 262-8959
Matthew Stock, CPA, Auditor, Zuckerman Law Firm
Certified Public Accountant

Matthew Stock is the Director of the Whistleblower Rewards Practice at Zuckerman Law. He is an attorney, Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and former KPMG external auditor. Mr. Stock has audited a broad range of industries, both domestically and internationally, including large public companies and financial institutions. As an auditor, Mr. Stock developed an expertise in financial statement analysis and fraud recognition.

At Zuckerman Law, Mr. Stock leverages his experience as an attorney, CPA, CFE and external auditor to assist whistleblowers investigate and disclose complex financial frauds to the government. His practice focuses on representing whistleblowers in rewards cases at the SECCFTCDOJ and IRS. In addition, Mr. Stock assists whistleblowers in Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliation cases, analyzing a wide range of accounting issues, including financial statement fraudinadequate internal controls, and issuer disclosure violations.