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FINRA’s Enforcement Chief, Susan Merrill, Has Some Set of Balls

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 19, 2010 7:36 AM |

I have grown accustomed to some truly shocking developments and resulting statements throughout the course of our economic crisis. That said, the statement I read late last night from the soon to depart Chief of Enforcement at FINRA, Susan Merrill, left me absolutely aghast.

As reported by the financial industry newsletter, Investment News, Ms. Merrill said she was,

“especially proud of the actions we brought regarding auction-rate securities….as well as vigorous actions to shut down Ponzi schemers.”

Wow. With that reflective comment on her FINRA tenure, Ms. Merrill must believe people do not read these comments, they have no understanding of their context, or America is simply stupid.

Well, Ms. Merrill, I do read these comments. I do have an understanding of their context. I would like to think I am not stupid, and I welcome sharing my reaction with the American public.

In my opinion, you have some set of balls. I have met a lot of arrogant people on and off Wall Street, but with that statement you just elevated yourself to a special spot in the Halls of Arrogance along with a special corner in the Sense on Cents Hall of Shame. I say that with the appropriate level of respect.

Why do I accord you these “honors?”

According to the FINRA 2008 Annual Report, FINRA has been involved in successfully returning a few billion dollars of funds frozen in auction-rate securities. We are talking a few per cent of the total of $150 BILLION in frozen ARS.

Proud? You are easily pleased if that performance makes you proud.

If you want to earn the pride and respect of the American public and especially those investors whose funds remain frozen in outstanding auction-rate securities, let your conscience guide you to release all the details regarding the liquidation of FINRA’s own position of $647 million auction-rate securities in mid-2007. Do you have knowledge of this transaction? What can you share?

Did you truly say you were proud of the work FINRA did in unearthing Ponzi schemes? Tell me you did not make that statement. If in fact you made that statement and I am assuming the Investment News reporter quoted you accurately, then, in my opinion, you just pissed upon every respectful investor worldwide who was entangled in the Madoff Ponzi scheme.

If you want to earn the pride and respect of the American public, then perhaps you can compel your fellow FINRA executives to provide full and total transparency into the organization’s books and records. I call on you to address the allegation embedded in the Amerivet Securities v FINRA complaint claiming FINRA actually invested money in Mr. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. I call on you to address the real nature of Mr. Madoff’s relationship with FINRA and former FINRA head and current SEC Chair, Mary Schapiro.

While you may be proud, real professional pride and respect are measured in terms of how others view you not how you view yourself.

How do you think the thousands of investors whose lives have literally been devastated by the auction-rate securities and Madoff scandals would measure you?

Your time to be measured, though, is not over. You do have the opportunity to regain a serious measure of pride and respect in the eyes of those whom you were charged to protect. How might you do that?


America wants answers. Start with the questions I have put forth and go from there. At that point, you will begin to earn the pride and respect which does not come from cheap and shameless self-promotion.

In the meantime, Reps. Kanjorski, Issa, and Frank, are you listening? Perhaps you can compel Ms. Merrill to talk and release details to the above questions and many more.


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