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Congress to Review Oversight for Municipality Advisors

Posted on 11 May 2009

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According to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (MA-D) in remarks today at a meeting of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) in Boston, Congress will be reviewing legislation next week proposing regulation and oversight for investment advisers of municipalities.

A hearing is scheduled for May 21 to weigh his proposal to establish a fiduciary standard for municipal financial advisers and give the Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory authority over the advisers.

In addition, the proposal would authorize the Federal Reserve Bank to create a liquidity facility for existing variable-rate notes. The proposal also calls for the creation of a reinsurance system for mono-lines that deal exclusively with municipal finance.

And the legislation proposes the globalization of the ratings system to use the same criteria for both corporate and municipal debt.

The legislation was drafted in response to the problems in the credit markets. Some issuers of municipal debt were invested in financial vehicles such as auction rate securities or variable-rate demand notes, which experienced liquidity problems, a staff spokesman said.

FINRA is based in New York and Washington.