March 4, 2014
The purpose of this letter is to provide the Securities and Exchange Commission with comments on the above referenced proposed rule change which was filed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) on January 29, 2014.
I am an attorney whose practice is exclusively devoted to the representation of individual and institutional investors in their disputes with the securities industry. Moreover, I am a former President and current Director Emeritus of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA), am the former Chairman of FINRAs National Arbitration and Mediation Committee (NAMC), am the current Chairman of FINRAs Discovery Task Force Committee (DTFC) and am a former member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) Modernization Task Force.
It is my personal opinion that revisions to the FINRA Code of Arbitration Procedure (FINRA Code), which would empower arbitrators to make disciplinary referrals during the course of an arbitration proceeding, would be beneficial – if not critical – for public investors, the integrity of the arbitration forum and should be immediately approved by the staff of the Commission.
Notwithstanding the preceding, however, I would suggest that the proposed language in the first sentence of proposed Rule 12104(b) be modified so as to read as follows:
(b) During the pendency of an arbitration, any arbitrator may refer to the Director any matter or conduct that has come to the arbitrators attention during an evidentiary hearing, which the arbitrator has reason to believe poses an ongoing or imminent serious threat, that is likely to harm investors unless immediate action is taken.
Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to submit my comments on this rule filing.