David Takes On The Porn-Addicted Goliath: Egan-Jones Countersues The SEC

Tyler Durden's picture

A month and a half after the SEC took a much-deserved break from watching taxpayer-funded pornography, and stumbled on the scene with its latest pathetic attempt to scapegoat someone, anyone, for its years of gross incompetence, corruption, and inability to prosecute any of the true perpetrators for an event that wiped out tens of trillions in US wealth, by suing Egan-Jones for "improperly" filing their NRSRO application in what was a glaring attempt to shut them up, the only rating agency with any credibility has done what nobody else in the history of modern crony capitalist-cum-socialist America has dared to do: fight back. We have only three words for Sean Egan:  For. The. Win.

From the just filed lawsuit (District of Columbia, 12-cv-00920)

As reported widely, the damage recently done by the large issuer-paid firms, which have a virtual monopoly on the ratings industry, is almost incalculable. Congress has found that the large issuer-paid firms were instrumental in creating inflated and erroneous AAA ratings, for billions in profits to those firms, which fueled the ABS and collateralized debt obligation (“CDO”) market; which, when the market collapsed in 2008, it led to an estimated trillion dollars in losses and the largest financial crises since the Great Depression. The vast majority of the 2004-2007 ABS and CDO debt rated AAA by the large issuer-paid firms is now graded as junk.

As the Congressional Findings published in the Dodd-Frank Act make clear:

In the recent financial crisis, the ratings on structured financial products have proven to be inaccurate. This inaccuracy contributed significantly to the management of risks by financial institutions and investors, which in turn adversely impacted the health of the economy in the United States  and around the world. Such inaccuracy necessitates increased accountability on the part of credit ratings agencies.

As this Complaint makes unmistakably plain, a credit ratings agency (“CRA”) that the SEC chose to hold “accountable” since 2008 is Egan-Jones -- the one small independent ratings firm that actually warned the capital markets of dangerously over-rated ABS and CDO debt and has long been a valuable independent bellwether of true credit quality. The Administrative Proceeding is the latest in a series of SEC actions which are designed to diminish and marginalize Egan-Jones while supporting and maintaining the status quo of an issuer-paid ratings agency monopoly in direct, indeed, striking contravention of specific Congressional direction in both the Reform Act and the Dodd-Frank Act. While the SEC targets Egan-Jones for alleged infractions which have not affected a single rating or investor, the SEC has not suggested that it will ever take any real, proportional action against the large issuer-paid firms for issuing profitable inflated ABS and CDO ratings which brought about America’s economic crises.

...

Evidence of the SEC’s bias against Egan-Jones and towards the large issuer paid firms, includes, among other matters detailed in this Complaint, the SEC’s decision to ignore the important division between its regulatory inspection and examination functions on the one hand, and non-public investigative and enforcement functions on the other, by designating members of the Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) as officers of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement (“Enforcement”) while the OICE staff still were performing actively OCIE regulatory and examination functions.

Egan-Jones and Mr. Egan therefore seek declaratory and injunctive relief to remove the Administrative Proceeding to this federal court. Such removal is necessary to prevent the violation of Egan-Jones’ Due Process, Equal Protection and First Amendment rights. This Enforcement Action, if allowed to proceed in an administrative forum, would deprive both Egan-Jones and Mr. Egan of their right to a jury trial and other critical procedural safeguards available in our judicial system, including, but not limited to, the ability to mount defenses and obtain evidence in support thereof relating to the unfair and disparate treatment of Egan-Jones by the SEC, with no rational basis, and evidence relating to the motive for the SEC to do so; the SEC’s improper motive in bringing this action including the denial or marginalization of Egan-Jones’ content and voice in the marketplace; and the maintenance and continuation of the status quo conflicted issuer-paid ratings model in contravention of Congressional direction. For the reasons set forth in this Complaint, Egan-Jones and Mr. Egan come before this Court and respectfully ask for declaratory and expedited judicial relief in the form of removal of the Enforcement Action to this Federal Court.

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If we could only interject our fondest wish: make this a fight to the death.

 

Full filing:

 

And our personal message to the SEC: