The Securities and Exchange Commission has widened the pool of staffers eligible to launch enforcement investigations.
Allison Herren Lee, the SEC's acting chairwoman, restored the ability of senior officers in the enforcement division to authorize staff members to subpoena documents and take sworn testimony, Ms. Lee announced Tuesday.
The move enables investigative staff to act more swiftly to detect and stop ongoing frauds, preserve assets and protect vulnerable investors, said Ms. Lee, whom President Joe Biden appointed acting chairwoman last month, in a statement.
"Returning this authority to the division's experienced senior officers, who have a proven track record of executing it prudently, helps to ensure that investigative staff can work effectively to protect investors in an era when the pace of fraud — like the pace of markets themselves — is ever more rapid," Ms. Lee said. The decision was made in consultation with Melissa Hodgman, the enforcement division's acting director.
A representative from the SEC could not immediately be reached to clarify the number of enforcement division officials affected by the move or provide further information.
In fiscal year 2020, the SEC completed 405 stand-alone enforcement actions, down from 526 the previous year and 548 in fiscal year 2016, according to its most recent annual enforcement report released in November.
Mr. Biden has nominated Gary Gensler, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to lead the SEC, but he needs Senate confirmation before taking office.