SEC investigators are often stonewalled by foreign regulators when they seek information from other countries, SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar said Friday. 

“There are too many times when the SEC calls for help, all we hear is silence,” Aguilar said during a speech at University of Georgia Law School.

The obstacles include the lack of power of some regulators abroad to investigate, litigate or sanction violations; political and industry influence in foreign regulatory activities and a shortage of staff for international cooperation, he said.

Additionally, he said several foreign securities regulators are restrained by privacy laws and other legal limitations on their ability to disclose information essential for the SEC to conduct exams and enforcement investigations of international companies.

“The protection of American investors will require that the SEC increase its efforts to communicate, coordinate and cooperate with its international counterparts,” Aguilar said.

About 20 percent of the agency’s enforcement cases two years ago involved foreign companies and individuals, he said.

Last year, the SEC made 735 requests for international assistance and received 460 requests from foreign agencies.

The Supreme Court has also made it harder for American investors to sue foreign companies for fraud, Aguilar said.