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Rating:SEC in Turf Battle with NY Judge Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, July 2, 2004

SEC in Turf Battle with NY Judge

by: Theresa Sim

The SEC, no "friend" of a New York district court judge, filed an amicus brief opposing the judge's ruling against explicit disclosure requirements in a case against Merrill Lynch. The SEC filed the brief on June 21, the WSJ reported on Friday.

Judge Milton Pollack's ruling, made in July 2003, exonerated Merrill Lynch and its Global Technology Fund for not explicitly making disclosures about the fund's holdings.

The plaintiffs asserted that Merrill Lynch should have disclosed key potential conflicts of interest -- namely, that more than one-third of the companies held by the fund were also Merrill's investment banking clients, and that Merrill's research arm issued reports on more than 80 percent of the fund's portfolio, according to the WSJ.

Pollack ruled that the information was public and available through other means.

"The fact that information could be discovered somewhere in the public domain does not mean it can never be materially misleading to omit that information from a disclosure document or other statement," the WSJ reported the SEC as saying in its brief.

The judge's ruling violates "fundamental protections" for investors, said the SEC, and could result in a "serious disruption" to existing requirements.

"We've been watching these cases," the WSJ reported SEC General Counsel Giovanni Prezioso as saying. The SEC filed a similar brief in another case against a natural gas company last year, the WSJ reported. 

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