Attorney General Lockyer-Moderated Panel Discusses Need for Vigilance, State-Federal Cooperation in Fight Against Corporate Fraud

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(WASHINGTON D.C.) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer said a panel discussion among experts from across the nation today highlighted the need for continued vigilance and enhanced cooperation among state and federal officials in the effort to enforce securities fraud laws and better protect investors.

"Corporate corruption saps the strength of the market and the financial security of investors," said Lockyer. "Our workers, retirees, families and taxpayers have too much at stake for regulators and law enforcement officials not to take every step possible to ensure responsible corporate conduct. Today's forum reinforced the importance of a strong enforcement role for state Attorneys General and the need for state and federal officials to work together."

The panel discussion, "Enforcing Integrity: Defining the Role of State and Federal Regulation," was held in conjunction with the General Spring Meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). It was co-sponsored by Leon E. Panetta of the Panetta Institute and San Francisco corporate leader Walter H. Shorenstein.

Panetta expressed his hope the forum ultimately leads both business and government to take action to bolster investor confidence. "The purpose of this conference is to help restore trust in corporate America," he said. "That challenge remains a responsibility of both the public and private sector."

Shorenstein said such discussions are needed to help identify the best ways enhance corporate responsibility. "Companies are increasing their investments in corporate social responsibility," he said, "but there is little hard evidence about what works, what doesn't and why. There is an urgent need for an informed dialog to assess what is truly effective."

The panelists included: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, chairman of NAAG's Task Force on Corporate Responsibility; New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer; Mark Schonfeld, associate regional director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Ralph Lambiase, president of the North American Securities Administration Association; and New York Times columnist Jeffrey Madrick. Key points made during the discussion included:

Enforcement of securities laws is enhanced when state Attorneys General have a strong presence.

Revelations of market excesses will continue, as will the need for ongoing, strong enforcement.

Cooperative enforcement efforts among state and federal regulators and law enforcement officials have produced outstanding results. Those efforts should be built upon and advanced.

The private sector needs to strengthen its self-regulation efforts.

Even with effective self-regulation by the private sector, the stakes in the market held by small, less-sophisticated investors means government must maintain a strong enforcement role.

Tough enforcement of securities laws helps curb corporate fraud.

Greater transparency and enhanced disclosure are essential to protect mutual fund investors and help them make more informed decisions.

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