Bear Stearns may face SEC civil charges

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bear Stearns Cos BSC.N said it received a notice from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicating possible civil charges stemming from anti-competitive activity relating to bidding for municipal securities.

In its quarterly report filed Monday with the SEC, Bear said in February it received a “Wells Notice” related to “bidding for various financial instruments associated with municipal securities.”

Bear said it will have a chance to respond before any recommendation is made. A Wells Notice gives a recipient an opportunity to present a defense to show why an action should not be brought.

The investment bank on Monday also reported a 79 percent decline in first-quarter profit. Bear agreed last month to be acquired by JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N.