A news release from the governor’s office said House Bill 483, signed alongside Attorney General Bill McCollum at the Miami-Dade Civil Court, broadens the state’s ability to pursue securities fraud in an effort to strengthen investor protection.
The bill authorizes the Attorney General, with permission from the Office of Financial Regulation, to investigate and bring criminal penalties against anyone committing fraud under the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act. The legislation also strengthens financial registration requirements by authorizing the Office of Financial Regulation to require fingerprints as part of the registration process.
In addition, the Office of Financial Regulation will have the authority to suspend the registration of a dealer, investment adviser, branch office or associated person if a registrant fails to provide requested records.
“We need every resource and every option available to protect our citizens from another Bernie Madoff-type scheme,” said Attorney General McCollum, in the release. “I appreciate the Governor’s action on this bill and look forward to putting these new tools to work on behalf of our citizens.” Ironically, the bill was signed the same day Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for his $65 billion Ponzi scheme (see “Madoff Gets Life—and then Some“).
The legislation allows the Office of Financial Regulation to seek civil penalties against anyone who violates a provision of the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act. The legislation also enables the Florida Department Law Enforcement to pay rewards for original information in money laundering investigations.
Prior to the legislation, the Office of Financial Regulation was primarily responsible for the enforcement of the Florida Securities and Investor Protect Act.