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November 1, 2003

SEC Official Suggests Possible SRO Changes

By Gregory Bresiger

The quasi-public, self-regulatory organizations need to open up their decision-making processes to the public, an SEC official said in a recent speech.

"In light of recent events, it is incumbent on us to ask why these quasi-public institutions are not subject to transparency and reporting requirements substantially similar to those applicable to public companies," said Annette Narazeth, the SEC's Director of the Division of Market Regulation, in a speech in New York.

Narazeth said that the SEC is going to look closely at how the boards of SROs are nominated and run. She noted that, five years ago, there was an effort to have public directors on these boards. But she said there must be a definition of what a public board member is and how he or she would avoid conflicts.

"In light of the strong interest in ensuring that the self-regulatory function is as fair and rigorous as possible," Narazeth asked, "would it not make sense to refine our concept of a public director to include only those persons with no material relationship with the exchange, whether as a representative of a regulated firm, a listed company, or otherwise?"

Besides establishing the independence of SRO board members, Narazeth proposed as "a minimum" measure, the separation of the regulatory function and the market function.