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Feeling the Squeeze: SEC To Propose Tighter Asset Requirements, Funding For Fraud Investigations

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Call it the Millionaire Protection Rule. The SEC will reportedly propose a higher bar for hedge fund investors when its commissioners meet in December. Current rules require “accredited investors” in hedge funds have at least $1 million in assets or have reported income above $200,000 for the past two years. Recently some lawmakers have said that increases in housing prices have upped the value of assets of many otherwise not-so rich Americans, making them eligible to invest—and possibly lose their savings—in hedge funds.
Is this really a problem? We haven’t seen any statistics on how many of these millionaires-in-housing only are putting their life-savings into hedge funds, much less losing their life savings in recently collapsed hedge funds. Without evidence to the contrary, it’s hard not to suspect that this is a manufactured “crisis” cooked up by regulators and lawmakers.
On a positive note, SEC commissioner Chris Cox’s proposal to up funding for investigating hedge fund fraud is probably a good idea. The secrecy of many hedge funds creates opportunities for fraud, and just the knowledge that the SEC is taking this seriously should provide some disincentives for would-be wrong-doers.
SEC wants bigger bankrolls for hedge fund investors [Bloomberg in the Chicago Tribune]