United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Feb 24, 2020

§ 78u–1.
Civil penalties for insider trading
(a)
Authority to impose civil penalties
(1)
Judicial actions by Commission authorized
Whenever it shall appear to the Commission that any person has violated any provision of this chapter or the rules or regulations thereunder by purchasing or selling a security or security-based swap agreement while in possession of material, nonpublic information in, or has violated any such provision by communicating such information in connection with, a transaction on or through the facilities of a national securities exchange or from or through a broker or dealer, and which is not part of a public offering by an issuer of securities other than standardized options or security futures products, the Commission—
(A)
may bring an action in a United States district court to seek, and the court shall have jurisdiction to impose, a civil penalty to be paid by the person who committed such violation; and
(B)
may, subject to subsection (b)(1), bring an action in a United States district court to seek, and the court shall have jurisdiction to impose, a civil penalty to be paid by a person who, at the time of the violation, directly or indirectly controlled the person who committed such violation.
(2)
Amount of penalty for person who committed violation

The amount of the penalty which may be imposed on the person who committed such violation shall be determined by the court in light of the facts and circumstances, but shall not exceed three times the profit gained or loss avoided as a result of such unlawful purchase, sale, or communication.

(3)
Amount of penalty for controlling person

The amount of the penalty which may be imposed on any person who, at the time of the violation, directly or indirectly controlled the person who committed such violation, shall be determined by the court in light of the facts and circumstances, but shall not exceed the greater of $1,000,000, or three times the amount of the profit gained or loss avoided as a result of such controlled person’s violation. If such controlled person’s violation was a violation by communication, the profit gained or loss avoided as a result of the violation shall, for purposes of this paragraph only, be deemed to be limited to the profit gained or loss avoided by the person or persons to whom the controlled person directed such communication.

(b)
Limitations on liability
(1)
Liability of controlling persons
No controlling person shall be subject to a penalty under subsection (a)(1)(B) unless the Commission establishes that—
(A)
such controlling person knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that such controlled person was likely to engage in the act or acts constituting the violation and failed to take appropriate steps to prevent such act or acts before they occurred; or
(B)
such controlling person knowingly or recklessly failed to establish, maintain, or enforce any policy or procedure required under section 78o(f) 1
1
 See References in Text note below.
of this title or section 80b–4a of this title and such failure substantially contributed to or permitted the occurrence of the act or acts constituting the violation.
(2)
Additional restrictions on liability

No person shall be subject to a penalty under subsection (a) solely by reason of employing another person who is subject to a penalty under such subsection, unless such employing person is liable as a controlling person under paragraph (1) of this subsection. Section 78t(a) of this title shall not apply to actions under subsection (a) of this section.

(c)
Authority of Commission

The Commission, by such rules, regulations, and orders as it considers necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors, may exempt, in whole or in part, either unconditionally or upon specific terms and conditions, any person or transaction or class of persons or transactions from this section.

(d)
Procedures for collection
(1)
Payment of penalty to Treasury

A penalty imposed under this section shall be payable into the Treasury of the United States, except as otherwise provided in section 7246 of this title and section 78u–6 of this title.

(2)
Collection of penalties

If a person upon whom such a penalty is imposed shall fail to pay such penalty within the time prescribed in the court’s order, the Commission may refer the matter to the Attorney General who shall recover such penalty by action in the appropriate United States district court.

(3)
Remedy not exclusive

The actions authorized by this section may be brought in addition to any other actions that the Commission or the Attorney General are entitled to bring.

(4)
Jurisdiction and venue

For purposes of section 78aa of this title, actions under this section shall be actions to enforce a liability or a duty created by this chapter.

(5)
Statute of limitations

No action may be brought under this section more than 5 years after the date of the purchase or sale. This section shall not be construed to bar or limit in any manner any action by the Commission or the Attorney General under any other provision of this chapter, nor shall it bar or limit in any manner any action to recover penalties, or to seek any other order regarding penalties, imposed in an action commenced within 5 years of such transaction.

(e)
Definition

For purposes of this section, “profit gained” or “loss avoided” is the difference between the purchase or sale price of the security and the value of that security as measured by the trading price of the security a reasonable period after public dissemination of the nonpublic information.

(f)
Limitation on Commission authority

The authority of the Commission under this section with respect to security-based swap agreements shall be subject to the restrictions and limitations of section 78c–1(b) of this title.

(g)
Duty of Members and employees of Congress
(1)
In general

Subject to the rule of construction under section 10 of the STOCK Act and solely for purposes of the insider trading prohibitions arising under this chapter, including section 78j(b) of this title and Rule 10b–5 thereunder, each Member of Congress or employee of Congress owes a duty arising from a relationship of trust and confidence to the Congress, the United States Government, and the citizens of the United States with respect to material, nonpublic information derived from such person’s position as a Member of Congress or employee of Congress or gained from the performance of such person’s official responsibilities.

(2)
Definitions
In this subsection—
(A)
the term “Member of Congress” means a member of the Senate or House of Representatives, a Delegate to the House of Representatives, and the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico; and
(B)
the term “employee of Congress” means—
(i)
any individual (other than a Member of Congress), whose compensation is disbursed by the Secretary of the Senate or the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives; and
(ii)
any other officer or employee of the legislative branch (as defined in section 109(11) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App. 109(11))).
(3)
Rule of construction

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to impair or limit the construction of the existing antifraud provisions of the securities laws or the authority of the Commission under those provisions.

(h)
Duty of other Federal officials
(1)
In general

Subject to the rule of construction under section 10 of the STOCK Act and solely for purposes of the insider trading prohibitions arising under this chapter, including section 78j(b) of this title, and Rule 10b–5 thereunder, each executive branch employee, each judicial officer, and each judicial employee owes a duty arising from a relationship of trust and confidence to the United States Government and the citizens of the United States with respect to material, nonpublic information derived from such person’s position as an executive branch employee, judicial officer, or judicial employee or gained from the performance of such person’s official responsibilities.

(2)
Definitions
In this subsection—
(A)
the term “executive branch employee”—
(i)
has the meaning given the term “employee” under section 2105 of title 5;
(ii)
includes—
(I)
the President;
(II)
the Vice President; and
(III)
an employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission;
(B)
the term “judicial employee” has the meaning given that term in section 109(8) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App. 109(8)); and
(C)
the term “judicial officer” has the meaning given that term under section 109(10) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App. 109(10)).
(3)
Rule of construction

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to impair or limit the construction of the existing antifraud provisions of the securities laws or the authority of the Commission under those provisions.

(i)
Participation in initial public offerings

An individual described in section 101(f) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 may not purchase securities that are the subject of an initial public offering (within the meaning given such term in section 78l(f)(1)(G)(i) of this title) in any manner other than is available to members of the public generally.

(June 6, 1934, ch. 404, title I, § 21A, as added Pub. L. 100–704, § 3(a)(2), Nov. 19, 1988, 102 Stat. 4677; amended Pub. L. 101–429, title II, § 202(b), Oct. 15, 1990, 104 Stat. 938; Pub. L. 106–554, § 1(a)(5) [title II, § 205(a)(4), title III, § 303(k), (l)], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A–426, 2763A–456, 2763A–457; Pub. L. 107–204, title III, § 308(d)(2), July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 785; Pub. L. 111–203, title VII, § 762(d)(7), title IX, § 923(b)(2), July 21, 2010, 124 Stat. 1761, 1850; Pub. L. 112–105, §§ 4(b)(2), 9(b)(2)(B), 12, Apr. 4, 2012, 126 Stat. 292, 297, 300.)
cite as: 15 USC 78u-1