Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant — Better Markets Renews Call for MetLife Transparency

Better Markets filed in court an updated version of its still-pending request for transparency in MetLife v. Financial Stability Oversight Council.

Dennis Kelleher Better Markets

Dennis Kelleher
Better Markets

On March 30, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia announced that it had filed an opinion under seal, explaining its basis for granting partial summary judgment to MetLife and rescinding the designation of MetLife as a systemically important financial institution.

A redacted, public version of that opinion is expected in early April, after the parties propose redactions.

Better Markets previously moved to intervene in this action, proposing a process that would subject all the existing redactions to careful scrutiny so that the public would have access to the record in this important case.

In its court filing, Better Markets requested that its proposed process also apply to the redactions in the court’s opinion.

“The FSOC is the only agency with the legal duty, responsibility, and authority to identify, investigate, and designate systemic threats to the country from nonbanks in the shadow banking system,” said Better Markets President Dennis Kelleher. “It is the American people’s frontline defense against another cataclysmic financial crisis like 2008, which cost the United States more than $20 trillion in lost jobs, homes, savings, and so much more. Yet MetLife’s lawsuit to effectively gut the FSOC’s ability to do its enormously important job has been shrouded in secrecy because more than two-thirds of the record has been filed under seal and is unavailable to the public. And now the court’s decision, overturning FSOC’s designation, is also under seal,”.

“The American people have a presumptive right of access to judicial records, one that is firmly established in the law, deeply rooted in our history and traditions, and essential to the integrity of our democracy. Thus, the court’s opinion, like the parties’ briefs and the evidentiary record, should be fully available to the public, limited only by the most compelling claims of confidentiality, which must be independently scrutinized by the court. So far, unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. That’s why we went back to court today to renew and update our request for transparency.”

In MetLife v. FSOC, MetLife has prevailed in the first round of this litigation, winning a nullification of the FSOC’s judgment that MetLife is systemically significant.

Kelleher said that the decision, depending on its reasoning and breadth, could not only erase that designation but also paralyze the FSOC in its ability to address other nonbank systemic risks to the financial system before they ignite another financial crisis.

“The American people deserve to know as much as possible about that action,” Kelleher said.


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