Dr. Evil Would Love Morgan Stanley Facebook Settlement

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By Jonathan Weil

How's this for reminding Wall Street banks of how little they have to fear from government?

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin today fined Morgan Stanley $5 million "for the improper influence by their investment bankers over research analysts prior to the initial public offering of Facebook.''

(Cue image of Dr. Evil raising pinkie to mouth saying, "five mil-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-ion dollars.")

Per the usual ritual in these sorts of things, Galvin's news release includes a tough-guy quote from, of course, Galvin. "The steps taken by Morgan Stanley's senior investment banker to improperly influence research analysts to provide them with specific quantitative information not disclosed in the S-1 filing with the SEC was a clear violation of the global research analyst settlement that Morgan Stanley signed with Massachusetts in 2003,'' he said.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman, Mary Claire Delaney, said the firm is "pleased to have reached a settlement with Secretary Galvin'' and "to have put this matter behind us.'' And no doubt it is! Because, after all, the settlement cost Morgan Stanley only $5 million.

Another day, another parking ticket.

(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)

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-0- Dec/17/2012 21:50 GMT