Groups Ask SEC to Do Nothing on Terrorism-Link Info

January 22, 2008 ( - Two business groups have asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) not to reinstate a Web tool aimed at helping investors identify companies with investments in countries the United States designates as "sponsors of terrorism."

“Sensitive judgments have to be made and the SEC is the wrong place to be doing it,” said Todd Malan, president of the Organization for International Investment, which represents foreign companies, in a Reuters news report. In November, the agency asked for public comment on whether to provide investors with access to information on companies with possible terrorism-linked investments (See SEC Reconsidering Terrorist Tracking Tools ).

The Organization for International Investment and the National Foreign Trade Council are urging the SEC not to do anything.

In June, the SEC added to its Web site a tool that permitted investors to obtain information directly from company disclosure documents about their business interests in countries the U.S. Secretary of State designated “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” (See SEC Makes Terrorism-Link Info Available to Investors ). The tool received criticism including a letter by House of Representatives Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank asking the regulator to consider a more accurate method for compiling the list, and arguing that some of the companies on the list dumped their ties with the terrorist states since the list was created (See Legislator Condemns SEC’s Method for Pinpointing Terrorist State-linked Companies ).

The SEC disabled the tool, and turned to the public for advice. The deadline for public comment was January 22.