Definition The Fair Funds for Investors provision was introduced in 2002 under Section 308(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). It aims to benefit investors who have suffered financial losses due to illegal or unethical activities by individuals or companies violating securities regulations. This provision enables the return of wrongful profits, penalties, and fines to defrauded investors.

Key Takeaways

  • The Fair Funds for Investors provision was introduced in 2002 under Section 308(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).
  • It returns wrongful profits, penalties, and fines to defrauded investors.
  • Previously, money recovered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from regulatory violators was disbursed to the U.S. Treasury, with no direct distribution to victimized investors.

Understanding Fair Funds for Investors Before the Fair Funds Provision, money recovered by the SEC through civil penalties against regulatory violators went to the U.S. Treasury, bypassing distribution to victimized investors. The provision changed this by allowing the SEC to combine civil money penalties with disgorgement funds to provide relief to victims of stock swindles.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The provision establishes a fund to hold money recovered from SEC cases.
  2. The fund determines the distribution of funds to defrauded investors.
  3. After disbursing the funds, the specific fund is terminated.

The Fair Funds for Investors provision has provided compensation to investors victimized by various forms of securities fraud and manipulation, including collusion between funds and brokers, interest-rate fixing, undisclosed fees, false advertising, late trading, pump-and-dump schemes, and mutual fund market timing.

In many cases, victims are unable to pursue private litigation due to inaccessibility or impracticality. The Fair Funds provision becomes their only means of accessing compensation. Research indicates that victims typically receive at least 80% of their losses through Fair Funds distributions when private litigation is not feasible.

Research on the Effectiveness of the Fair Funds for Investors Provision A study conducted by Urska Velikonja of Emory University and published in the Stanford Law Review in 2014 examined the effectiveness of the Fair Funds for Investors provision. The findings revealed the following:

  • Between 2002 and 2013, the provision allowed the SEC to distribute $14.46 billion to investors defrauded by fraud.
  • The average fair fund disbursement is comparable to the average class action settlement disbursement related to securities class action suits.
  • Fair funds compensate investors for various types of misconduct more effectively than private securities litigation, which primarily focuses on accounting fraud.
  • Defendants are more likely to contribute to Fair Funds for Investors distributions compared to paying damages related to private litigation.

Overall, the Fair Funds for Investors provision has proven to be successful in compensating defrauded investors, exceeding the expectations of opponents. It serves as a crucial avenue for victims to seek redress and recover a significant portion of their losses.

Additional Resources

For readers seeking further information on the Fair Funds for Investors provision and related topics, the following resources offer authoritative information and valuable insights:

Websites and Online Resources:

  1. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – Fair Funds: The official website of the SEC provides comprehensive information on Fair Funds, including relevant laws, regulations, and case studies. Visit the SEC Fair Funds webpage for more details.
  2. Investopedia – Fair Funds: Investopedia offers an informative article explaining the concept of Fair Funds and its significance for defrauded investors. Access the article here to enhance your understanding.


  1. “Fair Funds and Fairness in Securities Settlements” by Mark C. Mangan: This book explores the legal and practical aspects of Fair Funds provisions, providing an in-depth analysis of their implementation and impact on investor protection. Find the book on Amazon for further reading.
  2. “Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Planning, Implementation, and Compliance” by Scott Green: This comprehensive guidebook covers various aspects of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, including the Fair Funds provision, offering practical insights and strategies for compliance. Get the book on Amazon to delve deeper into the topic.

Academic Journals and Research Papers:

  1. “Public Compensation for Private Harm. Evidence from the SEC’s Fair Fund Distributions” by Urska Velikonja: This research paper published in the Stanford Law Review examines the effectiveness of the Fair Funds provision and provides valuable insights into the distribution of funds to defrauded investors. Access the paper here for detailed analysis.
  2. “Restitution and Fair Funds: A Case Study of Disgorgement and the Compensation of Injured Investors” by Jennifer Arlen: This academic article, published in The Journal of Legal Studies, analyzes the restitution process and Fair Funds provision, shedding light on their role in compensating defrauded investors. Read the article here for a comprehensive perspective.

Reports and Studies:

  1. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report: “SEC Practices: Additional Actions Needed to Better Deter, Detect, and Respond to Fraudulent Activity”: This report by the GAO assesses the SEC’s practices and provides recommendations for improving fraud detection and response, including insights on Fair Funds. Access the report here to gain valuable information.
  2. Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report: “Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: A Summary”: This CRS report provides an overview of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, including a section dedicated to the Fair Funds provision, offering a comprehensive understanding of its legislative background. Read the report here for detailed analysis.

Professional Organizations and Associations:

  1. American Bar Association (ABA) – Securities Litigation Committee: The ABA’s Securities Litigation Committee focuses on issues related to securities litigation, including Fair Funds. Visit their website to access resources, publications, and events relevant to the topic.
  2. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA): FINRA is a regulatory authority overseeing securities firms and brokers. Their website provides insights into investor protection, including resources related to Fair Funds. Explore their Investor Protection section for valuable information.

These resources will provide a wealth of information and diverse perspectives to further enhance your knowledge of the Fair Funds for Investors provision and its implications.