Tuesday, March 1, 2005

NY Columnist Attacks the SEC, calls for Unified Regulatory Organization

SEC's Empty Quiver

The newest columnist attacked the SEC today in his column, based on information that they are going to cut a deal with Martha Stewart on the insider trading charges.

Mr. Byron basically claims that the SEC is ineffective and useless. He leads with:

"In their rush to get a piece of the action in the Martha Stewart fox hunt, they've been outwitted, outflanked and outclassed by their prey, and law enforcement on Wall Street is going to suffer for it for a long time to come."

Mr. Byron might be right, but for the wrong reason. Dropping the Martha case is the right thing to do, since it should never have been brought in the first place. An insider trading case against Martha would have been a huge stretch, and would have required the Commission to prove that Martha knew that Sam was selling, and undoubtedly WHY Sam was selling.

Tough case to prove, which is undoubtedly why the US Attorney did not include an insider trading charge in their indictment.

Any thoughts? Mr. Byron has missed a number of significant facts, like the SEC's ability to refer criminal cases to the US Attorney, which is exactly what happened in the Martha Stewart Case, but is Chris right? Do we need a unified regulatory authority with criminal as well as civil power?

I doubt it, and while anyone can take a pot shot at the NASD or the SEC, or any government organization for that matter, the question is, is an overhaul going to make the system better or worse? Elliot Spitzer proved that with some effort and attention, changes can be made, so do we really need an overhaul of the entire system?
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