SEC Turns Attention To Private Equity

Jan 26 2012 | 9:51am ET

The Securities and Exchange Commission is likely to step up its oversight of—and actions against—private equity firms over the next few years, the co-head of its asset management enforcement unit said yesterday.

Robert Kaplan said the p.e. industry should expect more attention and enforcement actions in the years ahead. "I think that private equity law enforcement today is where hedge fund law enforcement was five or six years ago," he told the Private Equity Analyst Outlook conference in New York.

His colleagues on the asset management unit concurred, pointing to fees, expenses—especially broken-deal expenses—and valuation as areas of concern, as well as insider-trading.

"You can't take for granted that your accounting department or your auditor is going to properly account for an expense," Igor Rozenblit, a p.e. specialist in the unit, said. "If you have a separately-managed account and you're doing a deal together and there's a broken deal expense, make sure that's accounted for correctly."

Chad Earnst, assistant director of the unit, further warned that it would "focus on whether there's a systematic and consistent way the valuations are applied."

According to Rozenblit, questions have arisen "almost every time" the SEC has examined a p.e. firm.

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