U.S. House panel’s top Democrat, Republican seek executive trading oversight

FILE PHOTO:  Representative Maxine Waters speaks during a national day of action called
FILE PHOTO: Representative Maxine Waters speaks during a national day of action called “Keep Families Together” to protest the Trump administration’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Monica Almeida

January 18, 2019

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrat and Republican on the House Financial Services Committee are sponsoring legislation directing a regulatory review of some corporate executive investment plans, as the banking panel starts its 2019 work on a bipartisan note.

Representative Maxine Waters, the Democrat who chairs the panel, and Representative Patrick McHenry, its top Republican, are behind the bill, which would order the Securities and Exchange Commission to review its existing rules around some executive investment plans.

“I am happy to work with Ranking Member McHenry on the first of what I hope will be many bipartisan bills to strengthen consumer and investor protections,” Waters said in a statement.

“Cracking down on fraud and abuse within our financial system is apolitical,” said McHenry in a statement. “I am glad to join Chairwoman Waters in this meaningful effort to help the SEC better understand illicit insider trading.”

House Democrats, now back in the majority, are expected to feud frequently with President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress, and Waters has said she plans to vigorously monitor his administration.

But in the early days of the committee, Waters is emphasizing her bipartisan efforts.

The new bill targets so-called 10b5-1 trading plans, which allow for executives to make prearranged sales of company stock without facing accusations of insider trading. The SEC established rules in 2000 creating such plans.

Some experts have questioned, however, whether such plans are sufficiently disclosed and could still carry insider trading risk, given that executives can make later changes to those sale plans.

The SEC said it was reviewing such plans in 2007, but has not altered its rule. The new bill would direct the SEC to study its regulation, and consider if it should place additional limits on permissible trading.

New changes could include mandatory delays between creating a trading plan and selling shares, limiting how often executives can change those plans or limiting the number of such plans an executive can have.

The SEC did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder, editing by G Crosse)

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