Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson, ordered by a federal appeals court in Washington to reconsider a rule on...
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson, ordered by a federal appeals court in Washington to reconsider a rule on mutual-fund governance, will try to save the measure at a meeting next week, one day before he leaves the agency.
A three-judge panel Tuesday said the SEC failed to properly review the costs of the rule requiring 75 percent of a fund’s board to be independent directors, including the chairman.
Donaldson yesterday scheduled a new vote on the rule for next Wednesday, provoking a threat of legal action from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which filed the suit that yielded the D.C. Circuit appeals court decision.
“We think it’s outrageous, just an outrageous attempt to short-circuit the administrative process,” said Stephen Bokat, executive vice president of the chamber’s legal center. “They will see us back in court if they are going to give the instructions from the D.C. Circuit short shrift.”
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Donaldson’s decision to set the vote next week means the regulation probably will be approved since it will go before the five commissioners who adopted it 3-2 last June.
Donaldson has touted the rule as one of his most important initiatives for curbing the trading abuses that rocked the $7.9 trillion fund industry the past two years.
SEC Commissioner Cynthia Glassman, who opposed the rule along with her Republican colleague Paul Atkins, expressed disbelief that a vote would be set so quickly.
“The court raised very serious questions, which we should be investigating in full. How could we possibly do that in a week?” she said.
“We owe respect to the court and to investors to make an informed decision.”
SEC Commissioner Harvey Goldschmid, who backed the rule, said the court’s mandate will be easy to follow since it asked the agency to reconsider two procedural matters that are well understood.
“There is no need to take a great deal of time for reconsideration,” he said. “This is clearly the right thing to do.”
Wednesday’s vote also will take away the opportunity for Donaldson’s successor to review the ruling. Earlier this month, President Bush named U.S. Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., to replace Donaldson. Cox’s views on the rule aren’t known.
Cox spokesman Paul Wilkinson declined to comment.
At the meeting next week, the SEC also will consider rules designed to modernize securities offerings and prevent the fraudulent use of shell companies.