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    SEC panel to call for better Wall Street disciplinary database

    A panel of investor advocates said on Thursday they were developing a proposal for U.S. securities regulators that will make it easier for retail investors to conduct online background checks of financial professionals before hiring them. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Advisory Committee discussed the recommendation amid concerns about elderly investors who are often prime targets for fraudsters. It plans to vote on its recommendation in July. More on Reuters here.

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    SEC’s Head of Compliance, Andrew Bowden, to Leave

    WASHINGTON—A top Securities and Exchange Commission official who made headlines for criticizing the private-equity industry last year is planning to leave the commission. The SEC announced Tuesday that Andrew Bowden will step down from his post as head of the SEC’s Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations at the end of April, to return to the private sector. More in the Wall Street Journal here.

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    Victims of Financial Wrongdoing Need a More Muscular S.E.C

    Given the many billions of dollars financial companies have paid in regulatory and legal settlements related to the mortgage crisis, how much money has actually found its way into the pockets of investors harmed by their actions? Less than you may think. To start with, little of the cash generated in most of the Justice Department settlements went to investors. Much of this money went into Treasury coffers or to various states while troubled borrowers were promised loan modifications and other relief as part of the deals. More in the New York Times here.

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    SEC finds that KBR confidentiality agreements ‘stifled’ whistleblowers

    In what is being called a landmark ruling for whistleblowers, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Wednesday that one of the nation’s largest government contractors used confidentiality agreements that had the potential to intimidate and “muzzle” workers from reporting allegations of fraud. The ruling involving Kellogg Brown & Root, also known as KBR, sends a powerful signal to corporations that the improper use of confidentiality agreements will result in civil fines and possible criminal penalties, according to legal experts. The announcement is being hailed as a major victory for whistleblowers, shielding them from signing overly restrictive confidentiality agreements that threaten them with lawsuits and termination for reporting allegations of fraud. More in the Washington Post here.

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    SEC to take baby steps with vote on ‘IPO Lite’ crowfunding idea

    Nearly three years after Congress promised to open a spigot of new financing to startups, securities regulators are finally ready to allow one of two anticipated new fundraising methods to go live. In a meeting Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission will vote on rules detailing what’s being called “Regulation A+,” a new equity selling path that’s been widely described as an ” IPO Lite.” Details aren’t yet certain pending the vote, but observers expect the rules to allow young companies a way to raise $50 million from regular people — and to allow those stakes to be traded freely — without having to navigate the patchwork of state securities laws or formally registering with the SEC. This is separate from the more revolutionary Title III of the JOBS Act, a section that would allow startups at all ages to advertise equity investment deals of almost any size. More in New York Business Journal here.

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