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Securities and Exchange Commission

The SEC is an independent federal agency that administers federal laws governing the purchase and sales of securities (stocks and bonds). In addition to imvestigating complaints and possible violations of federal securities laws, the SEC also regulates national stock exchanges, licenses brokerage firms and investment advisers, and establishes codes of conduct for them.

The SEC was established as an independent, quasi-judicial regulatory agency by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, at which time it was given the power to license and regulate stock exchanges, the companies whose securities traded on them, and the brokers and dealers who conducted the trading. Currently, the SEC is responsible for administering seven major laws that govern the securities industry -- the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Trust Indenture Act of 1939, the Investment Company Act of 1940, the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, and the Credit Rating Agency Reform Act of 2006. The enforcement authority given by Congress allows the SEC to bring civil and/or criminal enforcement actions against individuals or companies alleged to have committed accounting fraud, provided false information, or engaged in insider trading or other violations of the securities law. To achieve its mandate, the SEC enforces the statutory requirement that public companies submit quarterly and annual reports, as well as other periodic reports.

The SEC consists of five Commissioners appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Their terms last five years, and are staggered so that one Commissioner's term ends on June 5 of each year. The President also designates one of the Commissioners as Chairman, the SEC's top executive.

There are five divisions within the SEC -- Corporation Finance, Trading and Markets, Investment Management, Enforcement, and Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the SEC has eleven regional offices.

The official website of the SEC is

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

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This page was last updated on September 27, 2017.