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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. I will take just a moment. Our colleague from Louisiana was on the floor a while ago referring to one of the nominees we will have coming up for a cloture vote in a moment to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, which is so significant.

I want to correct a few things in the record for my colleagues and first remind everyone that Ms. Bowen, who will be the nominee in front of us, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to be a director of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, where she has honorably served, after 25 years of representing clients in complex financial transactions as a partner of a major international firm.

The issue that has been raised on the floor relates to a decision that was made unanimously by the board she chairs that relates to a particular case where there is no question that there were citizens who were ripped off in a Ponzi scheme, the Stanford Ponzi scheme, in fact.

The question that came before this board that covers certain kinds of losses is whether what happened is something that could be covered under this particular entity, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.

Based on legal advice, outside counsel, and review, the board unanimously looked at this and said, unfortunately, due to law--which was written by Congress--this particular board could not cover the fraud victims in this particular case.

This subsequently went to the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, which concluded the current law does not authorize SIPC to cover these particular fraud victims. This has now gone on to the Court of Appeals.

SIPC and Ms. Bowen have indicated that if the Court of Appeals rules in favor of the victims, they are more than happy to include them and to reimburse them for the terrible situation they all found themselves in. This is a legal question of whether this particular fund is allowed to reimburse these particular victims of fraud. There have been over 9,000 victims who have been reimbursed through this fund in a lot of different situations, but it is a legal question.

The way this has been interpreted by our colleague from Louisiana--that somehow this is something personal that Ms. Bowen is involved in to try to stop these people, these victims, from being able to be reimbursed and made whole--is absolutely false. Again, this is an issue in the court. If the court rules in favor of those who were victims of this Ponzi scheme, then the group, the agency, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, has indicated they will move forward and include them under the scope of their responsibility for reimbursement.

Certainly what happened to people in this situation is terrible. I understand their concerns and wanting to find a way to be able to be made whole. But this is a legal question that was unanimously decided by a board of directors, of which Ms. Bowen is now the chair, it was recommended by outside counsel, and it was also something that was upheld by the Federal district court. It is now in the Court of Appeals. If the Court of Appeals changes and reverses the lower court, then they will act accordingly.

We should not have the situation where a very qualified member and nominee for this very important oversight agency, the futures industry, would be held responsible or somehow be caught up in the politics. I appreciate the legitimate concerns, but to lay those at the feet of this woman, at this point, simply is not fair.

Again, she was, on her qualifications, unanimously confirmed by the Senate once already, and I would urge colleagues to join together to support moving forward on this nomination with the cloture vote and ultimately to support her.

She has strong support throughout the country, is known for standing up for victims, and will play a very important role and be a very important voice going forward with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.

I yield the floor.


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