The Securities Enforcement Empirical Database (SEED) tracks and records information for SEC enforcement actions filed against public companies traded on major U.S. exchanges and their subsidiaries.

Created by the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business in cooperation with Cornerstone Research, SEED facilitates the analysis and reporting of SEC enforcement actions through regular updates of new filings and settlement information for ongoing enforcement actions. The variables tracked include defendant names and types, violations, venues, and resolutions.

Our goal is to shed light on the SEC’s securities law enforcement decisions.  SEED is the first public database to provide easily searchable and verified data to researchers, counsel, and corporations, as well as regular reports on developments and trends.
-- Professor Stephen Choi, Director of the Pollack Center for Law & Business.


The figure illustrates the number of SEC actions against public companies and subsidiaries in each fiscal year 2010 to 2020.

See color accessible chart. See full text description.

SEC Enforcement Activity: Public Companies and Subsidiaries (November 2020)

Key takeaways from the SEED research report for FY 2020 include:

  • The SEC filed 61 new actions against public companies and subsidiaries in FY 2020, which ended September 30, compared to a record-high 95 actions in FY 2019. The FY 2020 total was the lowest number since FY 2014.
  • Issuer reporting and disclosure allegations reemerged as the dominant allegation faced by public company and subsidiary defendants, accounting for almost half of the actions filed in FY 2020. The 30 issuer reporting and disclosure actions represented the most actions filed in any fiscal year in SEED.
  • Although the number of new actions fell substantially from FY 2019, the SEC imposed $1.6 billion in monetary settlements on public company and subsidiary defendants, slightly surpassing FY 2019’s total amount. Almost two-thirds of this amount came from two actions that each had settlements of $500 million or more.
  • The SEC brought 89% of enforcement actions against public companies and subsidiaries as administrative proceedings in FY 2020, while 11% were filed in federal court, consistent with the average of 10% over the last five fiscal years.
  • The SEC noted cooperation by 62% of defendants in FY 2020, below the record high of 77% the previous fiscal year, but above the average of 54% from FY 2010 to FY 2019.

Prior SEED and Cornerstone Research Reports 

This project is a collaboration between these organizations:

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