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SEC Crazy Talk

SEC Crazy Talk

By Gary Weiss, Portfolio.com

Sam Antar is an unlikely whistleblower: a convicted felon who went to jail for his role in the Crazy Eddie stock scandal and now spends his time fighting securities fraud. He says the SEC has been giving him—and other whistleblowers—a hard time.

A couple of weeks ago, a man from New York by the name of Sam Antar forwarded a zip drive to the Securities and Exchange Commission containing 37,000 documents that regulators wanted to see—a quarter of a million pages in all. “Just to open each file,” he told me, “I calculated that at a rate of two files a minute, it would take an SEC investigator, working seven hours a day, eight weeks to get through them all.”

Antar spent weeks fighting the agency over this, but eventually he decided the legal expenses of fighting it in court would be too crushing. It’s hard to be too sympathetic with Antar at first blush. When the SEC wants documents, it should get them, right? After all, everyone wants a vigorous, crime-fighting SEC. But in this case, the commission wasn’t targeting adversaries, but allies.

And that’s just one of the reasons why this probe smacks of the SEC’s infamous persecution of David Einhorn—a short-seller who was targeted rather than a company that he believed was engaged in improper practices, which the SEC eventually sanctioned. This is the kind of thing that has gotten me to increasingly wonder: What in heaven’s name is the SEC thinking? Is it completely out to lunch?

[...]

What makes this all even worse than the Einhorn mess is that the SEC is probing the two men’s contacts with those two Dow Jones reporters. That can’t help but have a chilling effect on the ability of the financial press to do its job. The agency has rules strictly limiting subpoenas to the media. Similar rules are needed to keep it from engaging in fishing expeditions aimed at people talking to the press.

Full article here.>


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