Giannoulias Calls for Strengthening State’s Securities Division
Plan Would Bolster Secretary of State’s Office Resources to Protect Residents, Curb Fraud
Democrat candidate for Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias wants to strengthen Illinois’ Securities Division to further safeguard Illinoisans from falling prey to financial scams and generate more revenue for the State.
“We need to protect ordinary investors from fraudulent activity and hold those who target our most vulnerable citizens accountable for their actions,” Giannoulias said. “Without aggressive investigations and thorough examination of the securities industry, potential fraud goes unchecked, and both victims and the State lose out.”
The Secretary of State’s Securities Department acts similarly to the SEC for the State of Illinois. The department is responsible for regulating the State’s securities industry and protecting investors by ensuring compliance with the law and investigating any complaints of fraud or improper practices.
Under Secretary of State Jesse White’s leadership, the State’s Securities Division has helped protect, reimburse, or hold those accountable who would look to victimize: Retirees who work hard their entire lives only to be defrauded out of their life savings; Immigrant families who were scammed with the false promise of high returns; and ordinary investors who were tricked into investing in pyramid schemes.
The Securities Department has approximately 30 employees and generates more than $50 million each year in fees, fines and penalties for the State. Its focus includes: enforcement to ensure compliance with state securities laws; examination to conduct audits involving registered entities, hedge funds, real estate, etc.; and registration as the licensing authority for approximately 8,000 broker dealers and sales/investment advisors.
By devoting more resources to increase the number of investigators, auditors and examiners and enhancing financial literacy component, the State would most importantly safeguard citizens and small investors, but additionally these efforts pay for themselves while bringing in more revenue to State coffers.
As Secretary of State, Giannoulias also plans to promote legislation aimed at protecting the elderly from falling prey to those violating securities laws, and tougher asset forfeiture laws to recoup hard-earned dollars for fraud victims. He also wants to provide additional training; improve coordination with other law enforcement agencies; and promote the division more as a resource for the public and those who suspect wrongdoing.
As a former State Treasurer, Giannoulias spearheaded the state’s Credit Card Marketing Act that cracks down on predatory credit card marketing practices on Illinois college campuses. He also led the charge in capping the predatory fees that firms charge consumers to locate unclaimed property they would otherwise receive free from the State, making Illinois only the second state to regulate so-called finder firms. Teaming up with then Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Giannoulias cracked down on debt settlement companies that make false promises of big savings to consumers while pushing them further into debt.