Investors may get a welcome shot in the arm if Florida’s attorney general and several state lawmakers have anything to say about it. On Feb. 11, Attorney General Bill McCollum joined Senator Garrett Richter and Representative Tom Grady to unveil a legislative proposal designed to strengthen Florida laws protecting securities investors.
According to the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the legislation – Senate Bill 1126 and House Bill 483 – would broaden the ability of state authorities to investigate and pursue securities fraud, as well as enhance registration requirements for investment advisors, dealers and other personnel.
In addition, the proposed legislation gives the Attorney General the ability to participate in civil investigations with the approval of the Office of Financial Regulation.
Grady, a securities attorney and expert in securities regulation, is the author and House sponsor of the bill. Richter, a banker and chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, is sponsoring the bill in the Senate. The legislation is expected to be heard during the 2009 Legislative Session.
In recent months, thousands of Floridians have become victims of securities fraud, including the alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernie Madoff. On Feb. 11, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that a partial civil agreement had been reached with Madoff. Under the terms of the deal, Madoff cannot contest the SEC’s civil fraud allegations. Possible civil fines and restitution will be decided at a later date.
The civil proceeding is separate from the criminal case against the New York money manager. Today, Madoff remains free on a $10 million bond.