Haunted by the failure to catch Bernie Madoff, the Securities and Exchange Commission is dramatically stepping up its investigation workload, reports the LA Times. Since February, the SEC has frozen the assets of 27 fraud suspects, compared to seven in the same period last year. “The clear message from the commission is we should be acting quickly where investor funds may be at risk from an ongoing fraud,” says the LA office head.
Having a new chief has made a difference, say employees. “I think the pipeline moves a lot faster at the commission than it used to,” says a former enforcement attorney. But the recession itself is also helping the SEC blow open frauds, as cash-starved investors trying to pull their funds find the money gone.