After criticism that regulators over-corrected after the age of Enron, some observers say they see the Securities Exchange Commission slowly slipping away from its fervently investor-oriented positions toward a more business-friendly orientation, according to the International Herald Tribune.

Investor advocated have criticized Cox for not pushing further for tighter regulation of hedge funds and for appearing at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce later this month, coinciding with the business group’s report criticizing the President Bush and SEC Chairman Christopher Cox for being too tough on corporations.  Cox said his appearance should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the Chamber’s position.

“You look at a parade of items and it begins to look to me like this commission is starting to take an historic shift away from investor interests,” said James Cox, a professor of law at Duke University. 

Cox refuted such suggestions.

“The United States government has an agency that services businesses and it is the Department of Commerce,” said Cox. “I wan to make sure that every company knows understands that so long as they treat their investors well, the SEC will be friendly to them,” he said.

“And if they attempt to drive a wedge between the interests of investors and the interests of management, we will be their relentless enemies,” he warned.

As a Republican former Congressman from Southern Calif., Cox sponsored laws to make it easier for companies to use stock options in compensating executives, and more difficult for investors to sue.

At the SEC, however, his hallmark has been more transparent pay. Some business leaders have criticized his support to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act as harmful to American business.

“The inference that some have drawn that [foreign] competition is caused by   regulation is wrong,” he said. “Some have made the case that our strong regulation and enforcement are indeed the cause of the opposite,” he said.

The SEC agenda for the upcoming year affirms the SEC commitment to investor protection Cox noted. Among the initiatives includes making clearer fees associated with 401(k) statements.

The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.

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