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Securities Law Update: SEC’s Broken Windows Enforcement

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2015 | Securities Laws, Uncategorized


In the 1990s, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton adopted a policing strategy known as “broken windows” or “quality-of-life” to combat crimes.  The theory was that, when a window is broken and immediately fixed, it sends a signal that disorder will not be tolerated; similarly, when a broken window is not fixed, it suggests that no one cares and encourages more serious crimes.  Under the policy, the city pursued minor offenses like subway fare evasion and graffiti as vigorously as serious crimes like robberies, if not more so.  The change was dramatic.  In 1990, New York City accounted for 2.9% of the nation’s population and 9.6% of the nation’s homicides; by 2013, those figures were 2.7% and 2.4%, respectively.[1]

Now, fast-forward to 2013.  Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Chairwoman, Mary Jo White, announced that the agency would pursue the “broken windows” strategy for securities violations.  Ms. White, who was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the 90s, made it clear that the agency’s goal is to see that its “enforcement program is—and is perceived to be—everywhere, pursuing all types of violations of [] federal securities laws, big and small.”

In our next post, we will discuss the SEC’s broken windows approach in detail.  Stay tuned.


This posting is intended to be a planning tool to familiarize readers with some of the high-level issues discussed herein.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your transaction planners including attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances.  This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity.


Steps have been taken to verify the contents of this article prior to publication.  However, readers should not, and may not, rely on this article.  Please consult with counsel to verify all contents and do not rely solely on this article in planning your legal transactions.


About the Author

Shawn McBride – R. Shawn McBride is the Managing Member of The R. Shawn McBride Law Office, P.L.L.C. which helps clients in legal issues related to starting companies, joint ventures, raising capital from and negotiating with investors and outside General Counsel functions. Shawn can be contacted at: 407-517-0064; [email protected], or

[1] NYPD, Broken Windows and Quality-of-Life Policing in New York City (2015),

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