When Trump’s SEC punishes Wall Street, it’s often done quietly

WASHINGTON — Under President Trump, the SEC isn’t embarrassing Wall Street as much as it used to.

Take TPG Capital. For years, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated TPG and its competitors over concerns they were pocketing tens of millions of dollars in fees that were largely hidden from investors.

When the agency started punishing firms over the expenses in 2015, it trumpeted enforcement actions against Blackstone Group, KKR, and Apollo Global Management as examples of the government holding big financial companies accountable. All three paid at least $28 million.

But TPG was treated differently. Instead of publishing a press release, the SEC disclosed the sanction in a dense legal document quietly posted on its website. When the $13 million settlement popped on Dec. 21, many on Wall Street were already on Christmas break.

In recent months, the SEC has opted not to highlight some hedge-fund and big-bank cases that its Trump-appointed chairman, former Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton, inherited.

The muted sanctions include a December action in which Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit agreed to pay $13 million for failing to adequately monitor customer accounts for money laundering and other suspicious activity. That same month, the SEC decided not to publicize an action against Nehal Chopra, a hedge fund manager. Its order said Chopra misled investors by telling them her trades were based on researching stocks. A lot of her ideas came from her husband, the regulator said.

The firms and individuals sanctioned by the SEC declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Clayton has said his priority is protecting ‘‘Mr. and Ms. 401K.’’ In the more than nine months he’s led the agency, it hasn’t hesitated to highlight enforcement actions involving small-time scammers, ponzi schemes, penny-stock frauds and, wrongdoing tied to cryptocurrencies.

It’s not just the number of press releases that’s dropping. Cases fell 13 percent to 754 for the fiscal year ended in September, while fines slipped 34 percent to $832 million.

Source : The Boston Globe

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