Sen. Bennett Renews Call for Hearing into Stock

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4Godnwv   Sunday, 07/22/07 03:32:01 PM
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Sen. Bennett Renews Call for Hearing into Stock Market Fraud

Location: Blogs Mark Faulk's Blog
Posted by: mfaulk 7/21/2007 5:21 AM

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) called for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd to conduct a hearing into stock market fraud, specifically addressing the issue of naked short selling. Sen. Bennett has been a long time proponent of stock market reform, and was instrumental in proposing a Senate Banking Committee hearing into naked short selling as early as late 2004, which were eventually shelved by then Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). He said that Sen. Dodd, who has entered the 2008 Presidential election, was willing to conduct a hearing into the issue:

“I think it is serious enough that we ought to have a hearing about this in the Banking Committee, and I have spoken to the Chairman of the Banking Committee, Senator Dodd, and asked him if it wouldn’t be possible for us to have much of a hearing at some point in the future, and he’s expressed a willingness to do that. I can understand, we can’t set a time for that right now. There are too many other things going on in the Banking Committee, but I’m delighted to know that he’s willing to cooperate with us in examining this. And I would like to suggest several things that I would like to discuss at that hearing.”

A source close to the issue said, “Senator Bennett has spent an enormous amount of time studying this problem, he’s intimately familiar with the abuses in the stock market. This speech is his opening salvo.” He went on to say that “We need an avalanche of letters and emails from every state in the Union going to every member of the U.S. Senate, urging Sen. Dodd, the chairman of the Banking Committee, to hold the hearing on Sen. Bennett’s recommendations.”

After first explaining the basic issue of naked short selling to his fellow Senators, Sen. Bennett then addressed the SEC and the creation of the DTCC, and their role in trade settlement, and how the need for a system to facilitate trade settlement led to the creation of the DTCC, or the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation. He said that the while the DTCC is regulated by the S.E.C. that” I don’t think that last statement is true. I’m not sure that the S.E.C. has control over the DTCC. He then quoted from a Wall Street Journal article that said, “Almost all stock is now kept at the company central depository and never leaves there. Instead, a stock buyers’ brokerage account is electronically credited with the securities entitlement. This credit can, in turn, be sold to someone else.”

Then Sen. Bennett described how electronic settlement, which he called “replacing paper with electrons,” can “provide cover for naked shorting of the stock” because shareholders are given an electronic credit for the purchase instead of physical delivery of the shares. From there, he described how electronic trading, and the DTCC’s practice of keeping shares in what has become known as the “DTCC Borrow Pool,” invites manipulation of the system:

“So this happens: a short seller enters the market and says, “I want to short—I want to sell 1,000 shares of XYZ stock so at some point he has to produce 1,000 shares to cover his sale. How do you do that? You borrow the shares. And then you buy them back at some future time. All right. From whom do you borrow them? The DTCC. They have all of the shares on deposit. So you go to the DTCC and you say, I want to borrow 1,000 shares of XYZ stock. They say, fine, we have them on deposit and will lend them to you so you can use them for your ‘short’ sale. All right, everything’s fine. Except that, in this electronic age, it is possible for you to keep shuffling around the electronic impulses that represent the stock and never, ever, have to buy it back. Stop and think about that, Mr. President. That’s a pretty good business plan. You can sell as much as you want and never, ever, have to pay for it. You could go in, the stock trading at $5 a share. You go in and sell 1,000 shares. You paid $5,000 for selling 1,000 shares and you never have to buy them. Because you are constantly moving around the electronic impulses that represent those shares. You never have to cover.

Now, when you talk to the DTCC people they say ‘No, we always make sure that there is a delivery and if there’s not, it’s not our fault. It’s not our responsibility to police this, it is up to the brokerage house to do this.’ The S.E.C. has spent enough time looking at this and enough time talking to me that they issued to me a three-page letter outlining the steps they have taken to stop the practice of ‘naked short selling.’”

After talking about recent rules implemented by the S.E.C. in an effort to deal with the problem of naked short selling, he talked about another method of circumventing the rules, a scheme that is commonly referred to as “stock kiting,” where two brokers pass shares back and forth between themselves, with each one holding the shares for thirteen days, the limit before forced settlement of the trade, and then passing it back to the other broker, where, according to Sen. Bennett, “they ping-pong these back and forth as long as they want. So you can have a situation where people are selling shares that don’t exist, taking commissions on the sale, and the profits of the sale, and never ever having to produce the shares.”

Bennett also said “I think a Congressional hearing is a good place for those who are running the DTCC to explain to us how it really works. And I would like the S.E.C. to come in and give us their background and information as to how their rules are working to try to stop the naked short selling.”

He laid out a number of proposals in his speech, including “a rule that says that brokers cannot borrow for short sales more stock than is on deposit with the DTCC. I think that’s just obvious. If there are 3 million shares of XYZ company on deposit at the DTCC, people should not be able to short sell 4 million shares…So my first recommendation would be that the DTCC cannot make available loans for short sellers more stock than they have on deposit. Once they have reached the point that 100% of the shares they have on deposit have been loaned out, they can’t loan out anymore. I think that’s just an obvious, commonsense recommendation, but it doesn’t apply now.” He also said, “there ought to be a rule that says that a broker cannot be paid a commission on a short sale until the shares are delivered.”

"It does not involve very many people, but for the people—to the people who are involved, it, frankly, can be a matter of life and death. And there are enough of them starting businesses and creating entrepreneurial activities in the United States that we owe it to them to find out exactly what is going on with respect to this.

That’s why I’ve asked Chairman Dodd to consider a hearing on this matter, to let us hear from the S.E.C., to let us hear from the DTCC, to let us hear from those in the marketplace who have actual experience with this and see if the present S.E.C. rules are sufficient or if we need to do additional things around the lines of the two items that I have suggested.”

Our anonymous source, who has spent years behind the scenes working for stock market reform, stressed that the hearing could hinge on the level of response from those who have been affected by stock market fraud, saying, “There’s been no bill introduced, but Senator Bennett is prepared to introduce a bill if these issues are not resolved. We need a nationwide campaign to get people to write their senators urging them to tell Sen. Dodd to hold hearings into the issues that Sen. Bennett addressed in the U.S. Senate today.”


To contact your Senator, go to:

To contact Senator Chris Dodd, go to:

or write him at:
U.S. Senator Chris Dodd
448 Russell Building
Washington D.C., 20510

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd
30 Lewis St Suite 101
Hartford, CT 06103

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