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sec investor advisory committee doesn’t really want the public to interfere with its work January 10, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , trackback

The Securities and Exchange Commission Investor Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting on Friday, January 18, 2013, in Multi-Purpose Room LL-006 at the Commission’s headquarters, 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. The notice of the meeting invites “the public” to submit written statements and says:

The agenda for the meeting includes: introductory remarks from Chairman Walter and Commissioners; introductory remarks from Committee officers; discussion of administrative matters; and reports from the four Investor Advisory Committee subcommittees (the Investor as Owner subcommittee, the Investor as Purchaser subcommittee, the Investor Education subcommittee, and the Market Structure subcommittee).

The notice doesn’t give any hint of the content of the reports. The minutes of the committee’s June 2012 meeting, which are available on the SEC’s website don’t give any hints of the substance of the committee’s work. There don’t appear to be minutes of the meetings in September and October (or at least not on the SEC’s website) although it would be possible to wade through the webcasts and audio archive of the committee’s meetings. The committee did consider recommendations on the JOBS Act at its telephonic meeting on October 12th (after the October 5th deadline for comments on the SEC’s proposal (a number of other comments were in fact submitted after this deadline)). The committee’s JOBS Act recommendations and its procedures are criticised by Keith Paul Bishop here. The notice of the October meeting (dated October 9th (!)) invited public statements and said:

The agenda for the meeting includes discussion of and voting on a recommendation from the Investor as Purchaser subcommittee regarding the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) requirements on general solicitation and general advertising in Rule 506 private placements.

But there seems to have been no advance notice of what the committee was thinking of doing, so no real possibility for public comment. The website shows that one public statement,from Keith Paul Bishop, was submitted in response to the notice of the October meeting. He objected to the lack of timely notice:

I strongly urge the Committee to reform its procedures to: (i) ensure that adequate advance notice is given to the public of all meetings (ii) make subcommittee recommendations available to the public sufficiently in advance of Committee meetings so that there is a meaningful opportunity for public comment and (iii) require disclosure of circumstances in which Committee members have potential or actual conflicts of interest or lack independence.

Another statement filed after the meeting contained similar objections:

It is very unclear what each of the Subcommittees is working on and whether there will be an opportunity for public input before individual recommendations are finalized. Except for a list of topics that was described in each of the Subcommittee reports at the September 28 meeting, the investing public is in the dark about what is going on in these Subcommittee discussions.

The committee does not seem to have paid much attention to these comments. The notice period for next week’s meeting is slightly longer than that for the October meeting, but there is still no information about what is to be discussed. And the notice of meeting is not mentioned in the latest news (or press releases) section of the SEC website, but on the what’s new page for January 9th. So, short notice, no information about what the committee proposes to discuss and no real attempt to let the “public” know that the meeting is even happening.


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