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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Calls For Changes to SEC Enforcement
By Kara Scannell
The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, March 9, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, becoming more vocal in its opposition to increased corporate oversight, is calling for changes to the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement process.

In a report to be released today, the Chamber makes 15 recommendations to improve SEC enforcement, starting with the appointment of an advisory committee to study enforcement processes and policies.

The Chamber's report follows its 2004 court challenge to an SEC rule that changed corporate governance at mutual funds, and amid criticism by defense lawyers and lawmakers of what they perceive to be aggressive enforcement tactics following the collapse of Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc., now part of Verizon Communications Inc.

Since then, the SEC's budget and its enforcement staff have nearly doubled. The agency also has won record fines and penalties in settlements with companies.

"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the advocate for millions of businesses of all sizes, undoubtedly has a valuable perspective on a variety of regulatory issues," SEC Chairman Chris Cox said in a statement.

"The SEC, which is the investor's advocate, will weigh the information in this report carefully and incorporate the facts and opinions it contains into our ongoing efforts to strengthen the enforcement of our securities laws," he stated.

In addition to calling for an advisory committee, the Chamber recommends the SEC "take steps to eliminate overlap" between the SEC and other law enforcement bodies and to clarify its policy on when a corporation should be fined.

This year, Mr. Cox united a divided commission and adopted penalty guidelines for the enforcement staff and commissioners to follow in determining whether a fine against a corporation is appropriate.

Write to Kara Scannell at kara.scannell@wsj.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114187894057193471.html?mod=us_business_whats_news