Earlier this month, Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce told Politico that she “absolutely” thinks that public companies should have the option to require arbitration, which would strip shareholders of their right to bring lawsuits like the one Kacouris filed. The comments by Peirce, a Donald Trump nominee who took office in January, amplified previous remarks by other SEC officials. Commissioner Michael Piwowar, for example, who departed his post in July, told an audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation last year that he would “encourage” companies to come talk to the SEC about putting mandatory arbitration clauses in their charters.
Read more about this in my story today in The Intercept.
For victims of sexual harassment on Wall Street, the case of Kathleen Mary O’Brien was a bad omen.
In 1988, O’Brien, then a stockbroker at Dean Witter Reynolds, filed the earliest sexual harassment case we could find in a public database maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street’s self-governing organization, which is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The year before, O’Brien had sued Dean Witter in Los Angeles Superior Court, but the brokerage firm successfully argued that she was legally bound to use Wall Street’s closed-door arbitration forum, then run by a FINRA predecessor, the National Association of Securities Dealers. The arbitrators’ decision in her case would turn out to be a common one in harassment cases over the following years: The claim was dismissed. The panel, offering no explanation as to how it came to the decision, charged her $3,000 in arbitration fees.
O’Brien’s case is one of 98 sexual harassment or hostile work environment claims and counterclaims made by women that The Intercept and the Investigative Fund found in the FINRA database over the past 30 years. You can read the full story here.
Jay Clayton, Donald Trump’s choice to run the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a man Wall Street itself might have picked to run its most important federal regulator. Except for two years clerking for a federal judge after graduating law school, he has worked his entire adult life at Sullivan & Cromwell, an elite law firm based in downtown Manhattan that includes many of the country’s largest publicly traded companies as clients.
Enforcement cases and fines have gone down since Clayton was sworn in last May, and the SEC has given Wall Street and corporate America any number of gifts, including the easing of public company disclosure requirements that some experts consider key for investors looking to understand a company. My colleague Gary Rivlin and I wrote about Clayton’s SEC for The Intercept. You can read our story here.
Among the business sectors largely absent from the current deluge of sexual harassment revelations is the financial services industry, a behemoth that employs 3.2 million people in the United States and is infamous for abuse and discrimination targeting women. In my story for The Intercept, I talk about women’s fate in finance and the reasons that most stay quiet. You can read it here.
Donald Trump promised he would “do a number” on financial regulations, and it looks like he may finally get his wish fulfilled at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency, created by Dodd-Frank, has returned $11.9 billion to 29 million consumers in its short 5 1/2 year history.
Wall Street’s well-paid surrogates in Congress have been beating up the CFPB and its director, Richard Cordray, at every opportunity. But the CFPB nonetheless carried on with its task of cracking down on sleazy payday lenders and sneaky banks that charged for services that customers never got. Now, though, Cordray has said he’s resigning at the end of the month, giving Trump a chance to replace him. The president’s temporary pick, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, once said “I don’t like the fact that the CFPB exists.” You get the idea.
Gary Rivlin and I took a look at the agency’s accomplishments — and at its foes well-funded attacks — in a piece for The Intercept. You can read it here.
Michael Hiltzik spoke with me for his story about the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal. You can read it here.
WNYC’s Richard Hake spoke with me about the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal and how it relates to my work on sexual harassment on Wall Street. You can hear the interview here.
The National Federation of Press Women said that I’ve won first place for business writing in its 2017 National Communications Contest.
From the judges: “This writer goes beyond merely simplifying the facts in public documents: the writer shows knowledge and confidence in pressing federal prosecutors and the securities industry self-regulating body with tough questions; the writer shows that sow action against securities “scammers” has a human cost.”
You can read the winning stories about penny-stock scams here and here.
ONE OF THE most important investor protections in decades took effect on June 9. The new rule, issued by the Department of Labor, sets in motion a seemingly commonsense requirement that those who advise on retirement investments must put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. Yet it marks a revolution in retirement security, the result of an epic seven-year battle between consumer advocates and the financial industry that sunk millions of dollars into white shoe lobbying firms, industry-sponsored studies, congressional campaign contributions, and major lawsuits in an effort to block the rule.
You can read my story about the DOL’s fiduciary rule in The Intercept here.
Andrea Seidt, Ohio Commissioner of Securities, presents me with Consumer Federation of America’s 2017 Betty Furness Consumer Media Service Award.
The National Society of Newspaper Columnists said I received its third place award in its 2017 competition in the online commentary category for my columns for TheStreet.com. From the judges: “Antilla’s sharp critiques of overlooked sins in the business world reveal the dysfunctional and villainy beyond the big stories that take hold during ever-briefer news cycles. Her careful research lays bare the institutional flaws and illuminates the direction the public’s attention should be pointed next.”
I’m honored to have been selected by the Consumer Federation of America for its 2017 Betty Furness Media Service Award. Past winners include Don Hewitt, Jane Bryant Quinn, Marketplace, Frontline.
Do you keep an eye on activity in your brokerage account? Well, you should. Criminals are figuring out clever ways to dupe your stockbroker into wiring money out of your account. It usually happens after someone has hacked your email account, so it’s not a bad idea to consider using two-factor authorization on your email. If that sounds like too much of a hassle, you might consider reading the story I wrote today for CNBC.com. You can read it here.
The Society of the Silurians said today that I’ve won its Excellence in Journalism award in the commentary category for the columns I wrote for TheStreet.com in 2016. You can read a list of all the winners here.
My columns in 2016 for TheStreet earned second place today for a National Headliners award in business commentary. You can read the list of all the winners here.
The Connecticut Press Club has selected my stories on penny stock fraud for first place in the Business Writing category of its annual Communications Contest. The stories looked at an elaborate, years-long scam in which small investors — often elderly — were targeted for worthless, manipulated securities. You can read the winning entries here and here.