Senators Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced new legislation that would put more teeth in the SEC's efforts to crack down on Wall Street misdoers—particularly for repeat offenders.

The Stronger Enforcement of Civil Penalties Act (SEC Penalties Act) of 2015 increases statutory limits on civil monetary penalties, and directly ties penalty size to the scope of harm and associated investor losses. It also substantially raises the financial stakes for repeat securities law violators.

Existing law limits the SEC's ability to penalize violators in some cases, with individuals subject to a maximum of $160,000 per offense and institutions $775,000. In other cases, the SEC may calculate penalties to equal the gross amount of ill-gotten gain, but only if the matter ends up in federal court. If the SEC handles a case administratively, it can't impose such large penalties.

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