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Rep. Boebert Calls for Investigation into Market Manipulation

January 28, 2021

Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (CO-03) released the following statement after calling on the Security and Exchange Commission to launch an investigation into the unprecedented market manipulation this week by financial institutions and Big Tech:

“Today, hard-working Americans lost their investments after Robinhood and other financial institutions engaged in unprecedented market manipulation and halted the purchase of GameStop stock and other securities to prevent further financial losses for their hedge fund buddies on Wall Street. Eleven other Members of Congress and I have called on the SEC to launch a full investigation into the legality of these events. Big Tech and Wall Street’s collusion have led to massive distrust in the market. That trust will not be restored until our questions are answered and those responsible are held accountable.”   


Background

Today, Congresswoman Boebert and eleven other Members of Congress sent a letter to the
Security and Exchange Commission requesting the agency launch an investigation into the unprecedented market manipulation this week by financial institutions and Big Tech.

The full text of the letter is available HERE and below. 

 

January 28, 2021

Allison Herren Lee
Acting Chairwoman

Security and Exchange Commission

100 F Street NE

Washington, DC 20549
 

Chairwoman Lee:

Recent events have raised concerns regarding the ability of financial services institutions to restrict the trading activity of retail investors in a way that favors one party over another. By now we are all familiar with the situation occurring with GameStop Corporation Common Stock (GME). While hedge funds and other privileged investors were afforded the ability to short in excess of 120% of shares outstanding, retail investors responded to this opportunity and subsequently bought the stock to a level that triggered a “short squeeze.” In the midst of this and in the name of reducing “volatility,” certain brokerage platforms restricted the buying but not the selling of GME and other securities even though the New York Stock Exchange already has mechanisms in place through the use of limit up/limit down pauses on trading to limit volatility and provide a pressure release mechanism to the markets in times of large market fluctuations. More concerning still is the relationship between the trade clearing firms that manage transactions for these brokerages and their counterparty interest in these short positions.

These drastic and potentially illegal market access changes appear to disproportionately benefit large institutional investors at the expense of individual retail investors. Our interest is in maintaining a fair and equal playing field for all Americans and market participants. This leads to the following questions:

  • Is it appropriate for financial services institutions to restrict the purchase but not the sale of a particular stock in response to market changes spurred by honest and freely available information?
  • More specifically, does a broker preventing a retail investor from purchasing a stock such as GME constitute market manipulation given possible conflicts of interest, and should these sorts of actions be permitted?
  • Will the SEC commit to conducting an investigation to determine whether any of these market access decisions were made after consultation with entities that had a financial interest limiting retail investors' ability to purchase stock in a specific company?
  • If so, how does the SEC plan on protecting individual retail investors from market manipulation resulting from financial institutions placing restrictions on the purchasing of a specific company’s stock?

Thank you for looking into this important matter and we look forward to your prompt response to these questions.

Sincerely,