133 organizations including Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection, today sent a letter urging the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to stand by its mission and longstanding policy of empowering and protecting American investors, including retired servicemembers, first responders, and teachers, by safeguarding their right to join together to hold law-breaking corporations publicly accountable in a court of law.
In recent months, Chairman Clayton has fueled speculation about a dramatic policy shift at the SEC that would threaten the security of hardworking Americans’ retirement savings and gut their legal rights by allowing publicly traded corporations to use forced arbitration clauses against their investors. These “rip-off clauses” would force investors to give up their most effective tool to fight back against securities fraud that could decimate their savings – class action lawsuits.
“Protecting the lifetime investments of all consumers, especially middle income, working Americans who have saved for retirement, should not be restricted by forced arbitration clauses,” cautions Alice Vickers, Director, Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection. “Consumers must have all tools available to address securities fraud and protect their life savings, including the ability for hardworking Americans to ban together and pursue private lawsuits.”
The letter reads in part:
“Investors rely on the SEC to promote market integrity and deter and detect fraud. But the SEC cannot fulfill this role on its own. Private shareholder lawsuits serve as an essential supplement to Commission action…Recent high-profile examples of securities fraud illustrate the devastating effect this would have. In enforcement actions against Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Bank of America and Global Crossing, for example, the SEC recovered penalties and fees totaling $1.8 billion, while private securities class actions were able to recover $19.4 billion for defrauded shareholders – more than ten times as much.”
In addition to the letter, more than 40 national and state-based organizations, led by the Consumer Federation of America, Public Justice, and the American Association for Justice, have joined together to form the Secure Our Savings (SOS) Coalition to keep up pressure on SEC leadership.