October 4, 2005
Subject: 256-23 (265-23)
Thank you for this opportunity.
I witnessed the take-down of a stock. It appeared to be a concerted effort by short-sellers and their media cohorts. This stock has been on the Reg SHO list since last year when it was instigated.
I'm terribly disappointed in the lack of enforcement by the SEC. The excuse for not forcing buy-ins has been "volatility". There was no concern about volatility as these stocks were manipulated downward.
The fact that Reg SHO was started rather than enforcing the already existing rules against naked shorting and FTD's creates the impression that the problem is so immense that the SEC is afraid to enforce the rules for fear that it will bring down major brokers who have clients who are underwater. It also leaves the impression that the SEC is encouraging the illegal activities by grandfathering the old fails. It looks like cronyism and corruption. It does not instill confidence in the investor.
The inability of the average investor to know whether a stock is being sold off or shorted needs to be addressed. Short sales should be published as part of the daily record, readily accessible to all investors.
The short interest that is published monthly should be available daily. Investors need to know if the FTD's are included in the short interest report. The number of fails for each stock should be available to the public. Being on the SHO list has not stopped the problem. Stating the size of the fails would draw the necessary attention to those stocks who are being manipulated.
There are visible manipulations on a daily basis. The striping of the tape at the end of the day to lower the price on heavily-shorted stocks benefits those who have shorted and are paying borrow fees on the value of the stock.
Trading below bid on the off-exchanges apparently between linked accounts could be easily checked. Honest investors do not sell their shares for less than what is being offered. This is manipulation.