U.S. SEC extends review of plan to ban broker settlement deals

June 13 Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:29pm EDT

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June 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has extended the deadline for its review of a proposal to ban a type of settlement in disputes between brokerages and investors that would make it easier for stock brokers to clear their records.

The SEC is giving itself a 45-day extension, until July 22, to decide how to proceed with the plan, according to a notice this week in the Federal Register. The agency needs more time to review the plan, filed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in April, and letters submitted by the public in response, the SEC said.

The plan would prohibit settlements in disputes between brokerages and investors that require investors to not oppose erasing details about complaints from brokers' public records. Details about arbitration complaints that investors file against brokerages must appear on the public disclose report of the broker who facilitated the transaction at issue, according to industry rules.

The SEC oversees FINRA, Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog, and is responsible for reviewing and approving changes to its rules.

FINRA's proposal followed a study last year by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA), a group of securities arbitration lawyers, finding that brokers succeeded 96.9 percent of the time between mid-2009 and the end of 2011 in expunging details about cases brought by investors against their firms that were later settled [ID: nL1N0I61TV]

The Dodd Frank financial reform law imposed stringent deadlines on the SEC for making decisions about changes to industry rules. The SEC must act within 45 days, but can give itself one 45-day extension. It must then launch a special type of review proceeding if it does not make a decision by the end of the period, the agency wrote in the Federal Register on Wednesday.

A FINRA spokeswoman declined to comment. (Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; editing by Andrew Hay)

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