SEC to Examine Muni Bond Market Issues During Hearings in Texas and Other States

The Securities and Exchange Commission is expecting to accelerate its regulatory and enforcement activity over the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market. The SEC will be holding hearings in a number of US states, including Texas, to go over Muni bond market issues.

Among the issues likely to receive attention from the SEC:
• “Conduit” financing, which involves bonds sold by municipal entities for third parties, including private companies and colleges.
• The need for practical, applicable guidance for state and local officials that is more specific than the prohibitions provided under Section 17(a) of the 1933 Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act.

Although municipal securities issuers are exempt from SEC registration, reporting, and disclosure requirements-per the 1934 Act’s Tower Amendment-they still have to abide by the commission’s antifraud provisions. The SEC has also sent compliance messages to issuers, improved disclosures, and discouraged bid-rigging, pay-to-play and other bad conduct.

Among its recent enforcement efforts, the SEC is investigating bond issuances in Rhode Island. It is also is looking into disclosures over Illinois’ funding of pension plans.

SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter will lead the hearings in Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Alabama this year. Staff will then put together a report that will include recommendations for legislative and regulatory changes and “best practices.”

Related Web Resources:
Second SEC Municipal Market Hearing Continues to Raise Disclosure, Tower Amendment Issues, NCSHA, December 15, 2010
SEC Sets Field Hearings on State of Municipal Securities Markets, SEC, September 7, 2010

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