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How to Handle a Subpoena From the SEC

Receiving a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may seem daunting at first. If you do receive one, the first thing you should do is take a deep breath and not panic. You should assess your situation, and ultimately—and calmly—proceed with the next steps to meet and address the subpoena.

If you receive a subpoena from the SEC, you will first want to figure out whether you are a target of their investigation. This is information you may request and the SEC informs you if you are a target or not. The SEC may not play hide-the-ball with you. Once you discover if you are a target or not, then you can figure out your next move.

If you are a target of the SEC’s investigation, then immediately stop talking and get an attorney. An experienced SEC attorney can help you navigate your case and guide you through each step of the process. If you are not a target, then your top priority should be preceding while avoiding becoming the target of an investigation. Review the subpoena carefully and discover just what is involved. Then speak with the investigating agency—and again, be careful while doing this. Get clear instructions on everything involved with the subpoena—the who, what, when, where, and how. Depending on the situation, compliance could become a costly matter requiring the assistance of experienced securities lawyers, and it may also necessitate compiling electronically stored information. You must comply fully and completely with the SEC’s subpoena.

When a subpoena arrives from the SEC, a wave of fear may overcome you. Take a moment to gather your thoughts and then take a pragmatic approach. By not panicking, assessing your situation, and—if needed—consulting with an attorney, you can save yourself from future issues.

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