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The SEC For Beginners

First off, this page is not affiliated with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It's a privately-maintained page created by some random lawyer who used to work there. Take it for what it is.

This is intended to serve as a very basic primer/FAQ for those with questions about the SEC--and, more specifically, about SEC enforcement. (If you're looking to learn about SEC rulemaking or securities law generally, sorry, you'll have to head elsewhere; I'm an enforcement guy.) 


I'm targeting this primarily at the very-online types who like to get into Twitter arguments about SEC-related matters in the news, be they crypto or insider trading or whatever. While I try to provide some quick answers here and there, I end up repeating myself (and, more often than not, being dismissed as some crank who only pretends to have worked at the SEC and doesn't know what he's talking about) (like someone would pretend to be an SEC alum because it helps you meet girls & impress people at parties???). So I thought it might be helpful to throw together something as a quick reference. 

Questions? Suggestions for changes/additions? Contact me at mfagel at comcast dot net.


Who are you and why should I care what you have to say?

What does the SEC do?

How do investigations work?

Is crypto a scam?

Should we talk about insider trading?

How about those hefty whistleblower awards?

Who Are You, And Why Should I Care What You Have To Say?

I spent about 28 years as a securities litigator in the Bay Area before retiring in 2019. For 16 of those years, I worked at the SEC's San Francisco Regional Office. I started as an enforcement attorney, and later supervisor, before becoming the Head of Enforcement for the office. After that, I served for five years as the Regional Director, overseeing a staff of over 100 attorneys and examiners and supervising the SEC's investigations and litigation in Northern California and 5 additional states in the Pacific Northwest.

I spent the other part of my career (6 years before joining the SEC, and another 6 years after leaving the SEC) in the private sector, representing primarily clients who were facing investigations by the SEC and other government regulators.

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