SEC's Thinking Still A Mystery After Merrill Lynch Megadeal

Law360, New York (June 23, 2016, 10:49 PM EDT) -- While the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission secured a massive fine and a rare admission of wrongdoing from Merrill Lynch on Thursday for misusing customer cash, experts said the case shows the agency's metrics for calculating penalties are still opaque and it remains unclear exactly how the agency decides to seek an admission of guilt.

In Thursday's settlement, Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $415 million, including a $358 million civil penalty, and admitted to violating the SEC's customer protection rule by engaging in complex options trades that artificially reduced the amount it needed to keep in a reserve account, freeing up...

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