Victims of Financial Wrongdoing Need a More Muscular S.E.C.

Given the many billions of dollars financial companies have paid in regulatory and legal settlements related to the mortgage crisis, how much money has actually found its way into the pockets of investors harmed by their actions?

Less than you may think. To start with, little of the cash generated in most of the Justice Department settlements went to investors. Much of this money went into Treasury coffers or to various states while troubled borrowers were promised loan modifications and other relief as part of the deals.

Wronged investors are entitled to receive money, however, from lawsuits filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. While the S.E.C. cannot, by law, seek compensatory damages for losses incurred by investors, the agency does collect penalties and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains from both institutions and individuals.

Read on.

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