Private Bonuses for Public Employment
Occupy the SEC (“OSEC”) submitted a letter to members of Congress, asking them to help close the spinning revolving door that exists between the private sector and government agencies. Specifically, the letter seeks to raise attention to morally bankrupt deferred compensation schemes through which private sector companies are able to indirectly influence executive branch employees. In its letter to Congress, OSEC advocates that language be added to Section 209 of Title 18 that specifically prohibits an executive branch employee from receiving any private sector bonus that rewards the acceptance of a government position, regardless of whether the bonus is paid before or during government employment.
Liquid Alternative Mutual Funds
OSEC has submitted a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), recommending that the agency promulgate tough new regulations covering so-called “liquid alternative” mutual funds. In our letter, we warn the SEC about the outsized risks that these alternative funds present to investors and the economy. “Liquid alts” are a variety of mutual funds that promise high yields to investors, based on the utilization of risky investment strategies typically favored by the likes of hedge funds. These alternative funds have grown in popularity and growth estimates anticipate assets in liquid alternatives to amount to $2 trillion by 2020.
Omnicare Supreme Court Case
OSEC has submitted an amicus brief in Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund, a case that is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case centers on a key provision of the Securities Act of 1933 , Section 11, which creates an express right of action against issuers and their agents for material misrepresentations contained in the offering materials of registered securities. Section 11 is an important tool that aggrieved investors can use to seek remedy for misleading statements made by issuers and their agents. For example, Section 11 has been extensively used to combat the sort of shoddy-mortgage backed securities that led to the last recession. The Petitioners in this case (and numerous pro-industry lobby groups) have urged the Court to upend this history by requiring Section 11 plaintiffs to prove that the speaker of a materially misleading statement of opinion actually held a different opinion than the one expressed (“subjective falsity”). OSEC’s amicus brief rejects the “subjective falsity” requirement, arguing that this novel standard would severely inhibit aggrieved investors from seeking redress for material misrepresentations contained in offering documents. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the case in the upcoming term.
September 5, 2014 Amicus Brief submitted to the Supreme Court.
Swaps Position Limits
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission ("CFTC") has once again solicited public comment on its controversial positions limits rule. OSEC submitted a comment letter to the CFTC taking exception with the proposal's broadly permissive provisions for hedging and the agency's failure to adequately regulate commodities speculation in non-spot months.
Taylor v. Bernanke Lawsuit Against Federal Agencies
Occupy the SEC filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York against six federal agencies (Federal Reserve, Department of Treasury, SEC, CFTC, OCC and FDIC), over those agencies' delay in promulgating a Final Rulemaking in connection with the "Volcker Rule."
Money Market Funds
Money market funds were left out of the Dodd-Frank Act, and remain a source of systemic risk to the U.S. economy. The Financial Stability Oversight Council is using its authority to drive regulation for the first time since its creation by the Dodd-Frank Act, leading OSEC to get involved in the process of commenting on new proposed regulations. Presently, we are engaged in drafting a Comment Letter on three proposed solutions to money market reform.
September 16, 2013 Comment Letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission in response to its proposed rule implementing Money Market Reforms. The SEC proposal follows some of the recommendations we submitted earlier to FSOC, but misses several important reforms.
February 15, 2013 Comment Letter to the Financial Stability Oversight Council on its proposed recommendations on Money Market Reform.
November 5, 2012 Letter to Timothy Geithner and Mary Schapiro on the need for transparency in the formation of rules.
Troice Supreme Court Cases
In October 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on three consolidated cases, Chadbourne Chadbourne & Parke LLP v. Troice, Willis of Colorado Inc. v. Troice and Proskauer Rose LLP v. Troice. The cases relate to the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA), which completely forbids any class action brought under state law if the complaint alleges fraud that is "in connection with" a federal securities transaction. OSEC has filed an amicus brief arguing that an overly broad definition of "in connection with" would severely hamper the ability of victims of financial fraud to find justice through the courts.
July 28, 2013 Amicus Brief submitted to the Supreme Court.
The Volcker Rule is our era’s version of Glass-Steagall Act. Glass-Steagall was passed during the Great Depression, and separated commercial and investment banking in order to stabilize the banking system. For much of the 20th century, the Act was a success - both the financial sector and the economy avoided a repeat of the Great Depression. But the relentless pressure for deregulation led to the steady dismantling of the Act’s provisions, culminating with its repeal in 1999 by the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act. Within a decade, both the markets and the economy plunged.
Like Glass-Steagall, the Volcker Rule attempts to restore stability to the banking system by strictly controlling the exposure of commercial banks to volatile financial market activity. If implemented properly, the Volcker Rule would be a big step toward stabilizing markets and the banking system and reducing the risk of more taxpayer-funded bailouts.
Both the Volcker Rule and the larger Dodd-Frank Act have met with stiff resistance from the financial industry and sympathetic lawmakers. Fortunately, the regulatory process provides an opportunity for concerned citizens to express their views. When regulators released a proposed implementation of the regulation, Occupy the SEC submitted a Comment Letter and followed that with meetings with regulators to present our arguments on how to make the rule better. The extended rulemaking process has given lobbyists multiple opportunities to push back on the rule’s development, which is why we remain engaged in commenting on the process.
April 16, 2012 Comment Letter to the CFTC on proposed implementation of the Volcker Rule.
January 30, 2012 Comment Letter to the SEC, FDIC, OCC and Federal Reserve on proposed implementation of the Volcker Rule.
January 17, 2012 Letter to the House Committee on Financial Services regarding their examination of the impact of the Volcker Rule on markets, businesses, investors and job creation.
Gabelli et al v. SEC
Occupy the SEC submitted an Amicus Brief in the case of Gabelli v. SEC, which is currently before the Supreme Court. The Court will be making a ruling about when the statute of limitations clock begins for certain fraud actions brought by the government - from the time the fraud was last committed or from the time the fraud was discovered. We contend - along with the SEC - that the timing should accrue from discovery of the fraud.
December 1, 2012 Amicus Brief submitted to Supreme Court.
The misleadingly named JOBS Act releases so-called "emerging growth" companies from having to comply with the investor-protection requirements of Sarbanes Oxley (or SOX). Emerging growth companies are supposed to be fledgling businesses that are financially burdened by SOX compliancy. According to this Act, such businesses should have annual revenues of less than $1 billion. But is that really "emerging?" For more details read our whole Comment Letter.
July 31, 2012 Comment Letter to the SEC on proposed implementation of the JOBS Act.
J.P. Morgan/London Whale Trading Debacle
In the spring of 2012, J.P. Morgan lost billions of dollars on a series of speculative trades. done under the auspices of what the bank claimed was "portfolio hedging." That classification put the trades into a category that was explicitly exempted from the proposed draft of the Volcker Rule. Three guesses who lobbied heavily for the exemption.
July 25, 2012 Letter to Schapiro requesting Sarbanes-Oxley enforcement action against J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Also, we submitted a letter to the Financial Service Committee encouraging the Committee to combat SOX violations more vigorously in the wake of the J.P. Morgan losses.
June 22, 2012 Commentary and questions for House Banking Services Committee questioning of Jamie Dimon
June 12, 2012 Commentary and questions for Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development
June 6, 2012 March on JP Morgan, the Federal Reserve and the SEC for investigation of Jamie Dimon. Press Release responding to the JPM losses.
LIBOR stands for the London Interbank Offer Rate, which is a rate calculated by member banks that tracks their borrowing costs, and is the basis for hundreds of trillions of dollars of derivatives, mortgages and other credit instruments. Last summer, Barclays was caught submitting interest rates that were massaged - either inflated or deflated - so that they could profit off certain trades or make their books look better than they were. Further investigations revealed that the fixing of rates extended beyond Barclays and had much larger ramifications for the markets.