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SEC has duty to protect investors

Chairman tells of fines for breaches
Published: 
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Deborah Thomas-Felix

Chairman of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) Deborah Thomas-Felix says the commission has been aggressively conducting surveillance of the market and imposing fines and penalties for breaches. She assured that the commission was not “asleep.” “I have been reading the newspapers with interest and I have noted the public’s comments on the role of regulators of this country, including the SEC and the heated debates on the collapse of two financial houses, namely CL Financial and the Hindu Credit Union,” Thomas-Felix said. “I have also noted the comment that the SEC is asleep.” She said the SEC recognised and acknowledged the weaknesses in the regulatory framework and had been working assiduously to enhance the areas of weakness. She was speaking at a cocktail reception at Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre on Thursday in honour of the SEC’s new general manager Claudia Emmanuel. Emmanuel, a British citizen, is a lawyer by profession. She was head legal and director of State Street Global Adviser Ltd in London. Thomas-Felix said the SEC’s purpose as regulator was not to scare the market and retard its development but to ensure the compliance of the Securities Industry Act which would promote transparency and market integrity. 

She said the SEC had a duty to protect investors and to reduce and or eliminate systemic risks. “The commission does not take this duty lightly,” she said. “Recently, a number of unregistered securities have surfaced. “I wish, as chairman, to signal that unregistered securities will be closely scrutinised and monitored with a view to ascertaining who are the issuers, whether these instruments pose systematic risks and we will take the necessary enforcement action against issuers to ensure that these instruments are regulated or that they cease to exist.” She said globally, there was a lack of interest in sovereign debt and, in many instances, market liquidity had evaporated and that some market participants had gone out of business like Lehman Brothers. Thomas-Felix, a former deputy chief magistrate, said one of the key learning crisis, therefore, was that markets were inextricably linked and that what affected one market, affected all. “This has caused regulators across the globe and indeed the SEC to acknowledge the need for cross-border co-operation and strong, modern regulatory regimes,” she added.