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N.Y. Official Seeks Wall Street Reforms

Jan 12, 2003 | AP

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Sunday said he will soon offer a package of reforms intended to curb malfeasance on Wall Street.

Spitzer said he will ask for state legislation in two or three weeks to require brokerage firms to be honest in their recommendation of stocks, and to crack down on companies that mislead investors with inflated stock ratings.

In an interview with Gabe Pressman on WNBC-TV, Spitzer said his reforms would work to end a "lack of independence on the part of accountants, lack of independence on the part of board members, lack of an obligation on the part of analysts in investment houses to swear to the fact that what they were saying was true and honest and could be relied upon."

"There will be changes technical changes but important changes to the laws," added Spitzer, who was hailed by Time magazine last month as "Crusader of the Year."

Under a "global settlement" reached late last month between Spitzer, the brokerages and federal regulators, the firms will pay $900 million in fines, $450 million over five years for firms to provide investors with independent research reports, and $85 million for a nationwide investor education program.

The settlement ends investigations by regulators into claims that the firms misled investors and cost them untold millions of dollars by overrating certain stocks during the 1990s.

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