In the aftermath of Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scheme and blistering congressional and SEC reviews, the Fort Worth office is under new management and rebuilding its reputation into one of legal and regulatory advocacy for the SEC rather than the informal character of years past.
With such a transformation, the office is seeing increased morale, greater enforcement and increasing specialty in review of bribery cases and oil and gas investments. The office is now seen as a more formidable enforcement entity where careers can be made and high profile cases are under investigation. At present, the office is conducting probes into Chesapeake Energy and Wal-Mart and has hired a geophysicist to assist in the examination of natural gas claims in related securities offerings.
High profile, complex investigations are currently ongoing alleging inappropriate financial perks for Chesapeake Energy’s CEO and another separate investigation alleging a cover-up of widespread bribery involving Wal-Mart’s operations in Mexico. Further, defense attorneys have also shared opinions that the office is less accommodative and less flexible than in previous times.
The SEC Forth Worth Office includes Arkansas, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma as part of its jurisdiction as well as oversight of prominent public companies such as AT&T, Dell and Exxon-Mobile. With the office now towing the line of Washington’s “cop-on-the-beat” attitude, industry participants in the region should be well prepared when working together with the SEC Fort Worth Office.