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Barron’s Highlights FINRA’s Stench

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 6th, 2010 8:01 PM |

The stench surrounding FINRA is attracting real attention.

The executives of Wall Street’s self-regulatory organization FINRA should not think that the recent dismissal of one legal complaint is reason for celebration. Why? Those who care for transparency measure success not in terms of judicial victories but to a much greater extent by public pressure and awareness. On that note, at long last real progress in creating transparency into FINRA is occurring.

From the highly regarded government watchdog Project on Government Oversight to now the leading weekend business periodical Barron’s, FINRA’s stench is attracting attention from more than the blogosphere and a few selected journalists (Bloomberg’s Susan Antilla, The Washington Examiner’s and Baltimore Sun’s Marta Mossburg, and also Barron’s Jim McTague).

The news in an article this weekend by Barron’s is not news to regular readers of Sense on Cents, but to most of America FINRA remains a foreign entity. Those days are changing.  (more…)

Media Attention Increases Heat on Mary Schapiro and FINRA

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 25th, 2009 1:44 PM |

Is the American public about to get a wider view into the relatively concealed world of Wall Street self-regulation? I believe so. The momentum towards real transparency is “heating up.” How is the temperature rising in the kitchens of SEC chief Mary Schapiro and her former colleagues at the Wall Street self-regulatory organization FINRA?

The widely read and enormously respected financial periodical Barron’s writes at length this weekend about a specific case which Sense on Cents has been addressing for the last few months. This case (Standard Investment Chartered v FINRA, NYSE Group, Mary Schapiro et al) is highlighted in Barron’s reporting of Suit Puts SEC Chief on the Hot Seat:

Did Securities and Exchange Chairman Mary Schapiro, in her former role as head of the National Association of Securities Dealers, approve a misleading proxy that helped boost her pay and those of other NASD executives?

I highlighted the points raised in the Barron’s article this past Thursday in writing “Nasdaq Sale: Why Would Schapiro and FINRA Execs Lie?”

I am heartened by Barron’s reporting. Why? I have written extensively about Ms. Schapiro and FINRA over the last ten months. I have been asked by dozens upon dozens of readers and friends as to why the mainstream media has not focused more attention on topics and questions which strike me as having enormous importance.

I believe the issues embedded in the questions I have raised are potentially explosive in terms of their impact on the entire financial regulatory structure in our country. Given their explosive potential, I believe many media outlets have not wanted to address them for fear of running the wrath of the power structure on Wall Street. That said, heat and pressure appropriately applied typically produce results. I believe the Barron’s article will go a very long way toward producing the much needed truth and transparency in our Wall Street regulatory structure. This development is outstanding. That said, the questions Ms. Schapiro and FINRA need to face go well beyond the topics addressed in the Barron’s article.  What other questions must be fully addressed? I submit the following:

1. America deserves to know the full extent of FINRA’s internal investment activities.  Did FINRA invest in Bernie Madoff as alleged in a lawsuit filed by Amerivet Securities v FINRA this past August? I submit from September 15th, 2009: “Attorney Claims Wall Street’s Cop, FINRA, Invested in Madoff.”

2. America deserves to know whether FINRA possessed material non-public information and utilized it in the liquidation of its own $647 million Auction-Rate Securities position in mid-2007. Those unaware should know that the ARS market was failing at the time. Additionally, federal judges have designated the sales and marketing of ARS as to have occurred in a fraudulent fashion. Thousands of investors with upwards of $160 BILLION in ARS remain unable to access their funds. FINRA was charged with protecting investors. They did anything but protect. I submit from May 21st, 2009: “U.S. Attorney and SEC Investigating Lehman’s Auction Rate Securities Sales; They Should Also Investigate FINRA’s.”

If the specific case referenced by Barrons proceeds, Ms. Schapiro may very well have to recuse herself since the SEC, which she currently heads, would likely be involved in the investigation of FINRA, her former employer. As such, I repeat my question from a few months ago in regard to whether Ms. Schapiro would recuse herself. Her recusal would take real courage. I submit from June 4th, 2009: “How Courageous Is Mary Schapiro?”

If in the process of discovery and investigation Ms. Schapiro and her former FINRA colleagues are not cooperative in the public pursuit of truth and transparency, it may then very well be that President Obama and his financial advisers will be faced with an “Independent Investigation Required” much as I had written on April 21st , 2009 and repeated on May 21st, 2009 in writing “Mary Schapiro Still Not Being Questioned; Independent Investigation Still Required.”

As the temperature rises in Ms. Schapiro’s kitchen, Sense on Cents will continue to monitor developments very closely and continue to press for real transparency in the process.

LD

Barrons, New York Times, and Sense on Cents All Request Transparency From FINRA

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 23rd, 2009 1:19 PM |

The drive for transparency in our financial regulatory system is gaining momentum. How so?

The complaint brought on behalf of Standard Investment Chartered v FINRA, NYSE Group, Mary Schapiro et al is receiving increased interest. As well it should. Why? As I have always maintained, for confidence to return to our markets and economy, it is imperative that we have transparency in our financial regulators and regulation.

In regard to this case, I wrote a Letter to Judge Jed Rakoff in re: Benchmark and Standard Investment Chartered v. FINRA on Thursday October 15th. I wrote:

. . . having attended the hearing in your chambers on October 6th on the above referenced case (I was the only member of the public or the press in attendance), I would request that you release unredacted documents pertaining to these complaints. The release of those unredacted documents would be of real public service. That service entails the ongoing public cry for real transparency in our financial industry at this time. That cry for so many of our citizens seems to go unheeded all too often. I could share dozens of comments left at my site echoing that cry.

I truly believe if a real measure of confidence in our markets and our economy is to return, it must be based on true transparency and integrity. While I have written extensively on the lack of transparency and integrity in our country, I don’t pretend to think that my site will change the landscape on this front immediately. That said, I am never discouraged to continue digging deeper, writing more, and asking the hard questions. On this front, I sincerely hope the adjudication of this case will highlight these qualities for all to see.

Barrons actually beat me to the punch and had requested a release of the same unredacted documents in a communication sent to Judge Rakoff on October 5th. Those interested in Barron’s request written by Jim McTague, the Washington D.C. editor, can access it here.

Today I learn that The New York Times is making the same request of FINRA. Stephen Labaton, senior writer for The New York Times in Washington D. C., made his request of Judge Rakoff this past Wednesday, October 21st. Those interested in the NYT request can access it here.

The drive for transparency in our financial regulatory system continues. With Barrons and The New York Times on board, that drive is gaining steam.

The American public deserves nothing less than total transparency and integrity in its markets, regulations, and regulators.

LD

Related Sense on Cents Commentary:

Nasdaq Sale: Why Would Schapiro and FINRA Execs Lie? (October 22, 2009)
Attorney Richard Greenfield Brands Mary Schapiro and FINRA Execs as “Liars”
(October 19, 2009)






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