March 01, 2014

Gabelli v. SEC: Ramifications for EPA’s Enforcement Programs

Sheila D. Jones

In February 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in a securities fraud case with significant implications for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement programs. Unless Congress has specified a statute of limitation elsewhere, the federal statute of limitations at 28 U.S.C. § 2462 (2012) is applicable to an action seeking a civil penalty, fine, or forfeiture irrespective of which a federal agency is the plaintiff. In Gabelli v. SEC, ___ U.S. __, 133 S. Ct. 1216 (2013), the Court addressed the following question: Does the five-year clock in the general statute of limitations for civil penalty actions start when the violation occurs or when the violation is discovered by the government?

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