Securities Enforcement

Davis Polk’s securities enforcement practice – led by a former SEC Director of Enforcement and a former SEC Commissioner – is among the very best in the country. Our practice draws on the combined strength of our distinguished Trading and Markets and market-leading regulatory enforcement groups, providing clients with an integrated team of lawyers who are well-known and highly respected throughout the corporate world, within the securities industry and by market regulators and government officials, both in the United States and internationally.

Our team advises clients on the full range of government enforcement, investigations and advisory matters, including  those associated with:

  • Accounting irregularities
  • Economic sanctions
  • Financial reporting
  • Foreign corrupt practices
  • Insider trading
  • Market manipulation and disruptions
  • Money laundering and terrorist financing
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Trading policy and procedures

Many of our securities enforcement lawyers have had significant government experience. They bring a unique perspective and approach when counseling and advising clients across the spectrum of proceedings initiated by:

  • Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
  • Offices of State Attorneys General and District Attorneys
  • Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Self-Regulatory Organizations (SROs)
  • U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (SFC)
  • U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

Our securities enforcement group works closely with our regulatory enforcement and white collar criminal defense practices to provide clients with a multidisciplinary approach to criminal, civil and regulatory matters.

SEC and CFTC Update

monthly newsletter providing insight into recent developments, key cases, and trends in enforcement at the SEC and CFTC.


Davis Polk’s securities enforcement and financial institutions practices have been selected as finalists for the Chambers USA “Awards for Excellence” in Securities Regulation five years in a row and won in 2012 and 2014.

Chambers USA:

  • Securities Regulation, Band 1
  • Davis Polk is “[a] highly respected operator in the securities space, demonstrating considerable strength in litigation, regulatory advice and enforcement defense. Expansive client roster of major financial institutions and multinational organizations.” 
  • Davis Polk has an “[i]n-depth knowledge of the SEC and CFTC as well as other regulatory bodies.” 
  • Davis Polk is a “leading enforcement group with a wealth of experience defending clients in securities fraud investigations. Demonstrates extraordinary prowess in the regulatory space, advising on the full range of compliance and reporting procedures…Represents an enviable roster of major financial institutions and blue-chip public companies. Fields an impressive team comprising a number of former high-ranking SEC staffers.”
  • Client Comments: 
      • Davis Polk is “[e]xtremely knowledgeable and very commercial in understanding what we do." "They are often the go-to firm for analysis when there's a change in legislation or regulation – they do the most thoughtful and complete analyses of issue-spotting.” 
      • Sources say: “They have an extraordinary bench. They can do anything and have great insight.”
      • Clients describe Davis Polk as “an outstanding client-oriented and solution-oriented firm.”

Notable Matters

  • DBRS, Inc. We represented DBRS, Inc. in a public administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings brought by the SEC. The core of the SEC’s action related to discrepancies between DBRS’s practices and its published methodologies for rating and conducting surveillance of residential mortgage-backed securities.
  • Hitachi. We advised Hitachi, Ltd. on an investigation conducted by the SEC into potential FCPA breaches of related to power plant contracts with the South African state-owned energy utility, Eskom.
  • Liquidnet. We represented Liquidnet, a dark pool, in connection with an SEC investigation into the use of confidential customer data, in a matter resolved with a non-fraud settlement.
  • McGraw Hill. We represented McGraw Hill Financial, Inc. in connection with lawsuits brought by the SEC, DOJ and Attorneys General of numerous states concerning the ratings of residential mortgage-backed securities.
  • Trading Firm. We represented a high-frequency trading firm, which accounts for about five percent of all stock trading, in connection with parallel inquires by the SEC and the New York Attorney General relating to the industry.
  • MF Global. We represented MF Global’s independent directors in connection with all litigation and investigations surrounding MF Global’s well-publicized failure and bankruptcy.
  • Direct Edge.  We represented the board of directors of Direct Edge in connection with an SEC multidisciplinary inquiry relating to potential violations concerning technology, information security, securities compliance and governance. 
  • Financial Institution. We represented a major financial institution in connection with an SEC and U.S. Attorney's Office investigation for the Southern District of New York into its use of expert network firms. Despite one of its former employees being convicted, no charges were brought against the financial institution.
  • Financial Institution. We represented a major financial institution in connection with the publicized industry-wide SEC investigation into participation in analyst surveys and alpha capture programs. This matter was resolved and closed by the SEC without action.