The Securities and Exchange Commission, NASD and the New York Stock Exchange Permanently Bar Henry Blodget From the Securities Industry and Require $4 Million Payment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
John Heine (SEC)
Nancy Condon (NASD)
Christiaan Brakman (NYSE)
New York and Washington, DC, Apr. 28, 2003 -- The Securities and Exchange Commission, NASD and the New York Stock Exchange — following a coordinated investigation of allegations of undue influence of investment banking interests on research analysts at brokerage firms — today announced that Henry Blodget, a former managing director at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Incorporated and the senior research analyst and group head for the Internet sector at the firm, will be censured and permanently barred from the securities industry, and will make a total payment of $4 million to settle the charges against him.
The regulators charged that, among other things, Blodget, of New York City, issued fraudulent research under Merrill Lynch's name, as well as research in which he expressed views that were inconsistent with privately expressed negative views. Blodget's conduct constituted violations of the federal securities laws and NASD and NYSE rules, which require that, among other things, published research reports have a reasonable basis, present a fair picture of the investment risks and benefits, and not make exaggerated or unwarranted claims.
In particular, the SEC alleges, and the NASD and NYSE found that, during 1999-2001, Blodget:
- aided and abetted violations of antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and violated SRO rules by issuing research reports on one internet company (GoTo.com) that were materially misleading because they were contrary to privately expressed negative views; and
- issued research reports on six other Internet companies (InfoSpace, Inc., 24/7 Media, Inc., Lifeminders, Inc., Homestore.com, Inc., Excite@Home, and Internet Capital Group, Inc.) that were not based on principles of fair dealing and good faith and did not provide a sound basis for evaluating facts regarding those companies, contained exaggerated or unwarranted claims about those companies, and/or contained opinions for which there was no reasonable basis.
Blodget neither admits nor denies these allegations, facts, conclusions, and findings.
Of Blodget's $4 million total payment, $2 million constitutes a penalty and $2 million constitutes disgorgement. Blodget's $4 million payment is specified in a Final Judgment that, if approved by the Court, will be entered in an action filed by the SEC in Federal District Court in New York City. The entire $4 million will be put into a distribution fund for the benefit of Merrill Lynch customers. Blodget has agreed that he will not seek reimbursement or indemnification for the penalties he pays. In addition, he has agreed that he will not seek a tax deduction or tax credit with regard to any federal, state or local tax for any penalty amounts he pays under the settlement.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Final Judgment in the SEC's Federal Court action will enjoin Blodget from violating the statutes and rules he is alleged to have violated.