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Report Urges SEC to Require Disclosure of Underwriters Disciplinary Histories

June 6, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Government investigators on Thursday urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to require publication of a stock underwriter’s disciplinary ``rap sheet″ in documents for a company’s stock sale.

The General Accounting Office said information about the criminal and disciplinary histories of securities underwriters would be valuable information to investors in initial public offerings of stock.

``Information about such violations could have a bearing on an investor’s evaluation of the riskiness of an investment,″ the GAO said.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, said a review of 34 underwriting firms found that 13 firms had a total of 25 formal disciplinary actions imposed by the SEC or various stock exchanges.

Currently, the SEC requires companies that make initial public offerings to disclose results for the past five years, information about the criminal and disciplinary histories of top officers.

However, SEC doesn’t require similar information about the stock sale’s underwriters, ``even though underwriters have important roles throughout the IPO process″ and could wind up manipulating prices of the shares, the GAO said.

In response, SEC staff told the GAO that it doesn’t see a need for a specific disclosure requirement for underwriters, since they don’t play an ongoing role in the management of the company. The SEC said it can draw on existing rules to require underwriters to disclose their disciplinary problems and pending enforcement cases.

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