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Statement on the SEC’s Upcoming Action on Chief Compliance Officers: Do Not Authorize Lying or Let Wall Street Police Itself

Washington, D.C., January 13, 2015  – Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, issued the following statement today in advance of the SEC’s meeting and votes tomorrow:

“Executives and management at financial firms too often subordinated compliance to the high risk pursuit of ever bigger profits and bonuses.  It is often viewed as an inconvenient cost center getting in the way of the profit centers.  This was well demonstrated throughout the financial industry in the years leading up to the 2008 crash and the financial reform law was designed, in part, to prevent that from happening again.  It recognized that compliance officers at financial firms are the front line protectors of the integrity of the company and essential gatekeepers to prevent wrongful, reckless or illegal actions. 

“Thus, providing false and misleading information to compliance officers -- lying to them – must be prohibited and anyone who does that should face severe penalties.  Policing this cannot be delegated or outsourced to the very executives and management who are too often trying to deceive compliance or bludgeon it into submission, as was recently demonstrated at JP Morgan Chase in connection with its $7 billion ‘London Whale’ derivatives trading loss, which we detailed in the attached letter to the SEC. 

“Only comprehensive and substantive SEC requirements with real liability can protect the integrity of the compliance function, which is the linchpin for compliance at a firm and ultimately for the entire financial services industry.  Better Markets has filed more than 10 comment letters solely or largely dedicated to advocating for the protection and independence of compliance officers (out of the more than 150 comment letters it has filed).”

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Better Markets is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes the public interest in financial reform in the domestic and global capital and commodity markets. Better Markets advocates for transparency, oversight and accountability with the goal of a stronger, safer financial system that is less prone to crisis and failure thereby eliminating or minimizing the need for more taxpayer funded bailouts. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.

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