Monday, March 23, 2009
Delaware Securities Commissioner James Ropp and Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin appeared before the House Financial Services Committee on Friday, March 20. The hearing, led by Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), brought together federal and state securities regulators and law enforcement officials to discuss the enforcement of investor protection laws at the federal and state levels.
Testifying on behalf of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), Commissioner Ropp urged Congress to support the valuable contributions of state securities regulators through federal grants. “ Ropp also suggested deputizing state securities attorneys to serve as special prosecutors for complex securities cases; allowing states to review securities offerings currently exempt from state oversight under Rule 506 of Regulation D; including representatives from the state banking, insurance and securities regulatory agencies on the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets; toughening civil and criminal penalties for those who commit financial crimes, especially those who target senior investors; and increasing opportunities for victims of fraud to seek private actions.
Secretary Galvin, the top securities official in Massachusetts, urged the committee to “give the states the tools we need to maintain and enhance our ability to regulate effectively and protect investors.” Galvin also asked Congress to require that brokerages be in a fiduciary relationship to their individual retail customers. Under current law, broker-dealer firms deal with their customers on an arm’s-length basis, subject to an obligation of fair dealing. This means that customers cannot rely on their brokers to meet fiduciary obligations of loyalty, care and competence. In contrast to brokers, investment advisers work solely for their customers and have an acknowledged fiduciary duty to them.