Obama Budget Boosts SEC Budget By Nearly 7%

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s proposed budget for fiscal 2010 would boost the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s budget nearly 7 percent, giving the agency more funds to root out financial fraud and protect investors.

The SEC budget proposal released on Thursday by the White House totaled $1.026 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, compared with the agency’s 2009 budget of $961 million.

The agency’s enforcement division and its office of inspections and examinations would each get a budget increase of 6.6 percent under Obama’s proposal.

“The (enforcement) division’s highest priority is responding to the current financial crisis and providing aid to harmed investors,” the budget documents said.

The division plans to focus on areas most at risk for fraud or other violations that could harm investors, such as market manipulation, insider trading, hedge funds and Ponzi schemes, the documents said.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has said she plans to add more enforcement staff to focus on pursuing tips, complaints and other leads. She has also said she plans to hire more examiners to strengthen risk-based surveillance and examination of investment advisers.

The SEC’s corporation finance division, which monitors disclosure requirements, the agency’s trading and markets unit, which regulates markets, and the SEC’s investment management division, would also receive budget increases under Obama’s budget plan.

(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai: Editing by Tim Dobbyn)