Evaluation of Steps Taken to Address the Problem of Unpaid Arbitration Awards

GAO-01-654R: Published: Apr 27, 2001. Publicly Released: May 8, 2001.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and securities self-regulatory organizations have taken actions that should help reduce the occurrence of unpaid arbitration awards. However, more time is needed to assess the effectiveness of the actions taken to date. Although recent data suggest that the percentage of unpaid awards has decreased, this data was limited to a very short time span. That data also showed that the problem of unpaid awards was still primarily due to broker-dealers and individual brokers leaving the securities industry without paying awards. The National Association of Securities Dealers-Dispute Resolution, Inc., has developed rules and procedure changes to help address this problem. SEC also plans to continue to monitor the payment of awards and, if nonpayment continues to be a problem, consider other approaches. Insurance coverage of unpaid awards, as proposed by Texas securities attorney William S. Shepherd, could impose additional costs on investors and other market participants and would need to be carefully examined.

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