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SEC tries to boost transparency with Twitter

Securities and Exchange Commission's new chief, Mary Schapiro, speaks about fixing the agency's image.

April 28, 2009|John Corrigan

DENVER — Mary Schapiro, the new Securities and Exchange Commission chief, was certain to take a get-tough stance at the agency -- after Bernie Madoff, what other choice did she have?

But in addition to all the steps she's taking along those lines -- a new enforcement director, streamlined rules for launching investigations, new procedures for following up on the 2,000 or so hotline tips the agency receives daily -- the SEC also is trying to make itself more transparent.

To that end, the agency is expanding its presence on Twitter, Schapiro told the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in Denver on Monday.

The SEC actually has three feeds on Twitter: SEC Investor Ed, with 1,519 followers as of midday; SEC News, with 541; and SEC Jobs (as in, if you need one), with 67.

It's all part of what Schapiro, three months into her job, is doing to help repair the agency's image.

"In real ways, the SEC has not been where investors most need it," Schapiro told the business journalists. "I've let it be known far and wide that things must change."

Schapiro said the SEC had about 150 ongoing hedge fund investigations, including alleged Ponzi schemes and misappropriations.

She said the agency had about two dozen municipal securities probes underway involving possible fraud, public corruption and violations of price transparency. The SEC also has more than 50 investigations into credit default swaps and other financial derivatives, she said.

Credit default swaps figured prominently in the failure of Lehman Bros. and the government bailout of American International Group Inc.

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john.corrigan@latimes.com

The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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