Stealth lobbying lead to a Justice Dept. investigation
In 2008, Nasdaq began clearing over-the-counter swaps of interest rates, commonly used to hedge against higher borrowing costs or to speculate on interest-rate moves. At $348 trillion, interest rate swaps are the largest derivative market. Nasdaq wants a larger share of the clearing business, which analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods estimate could be worth $610 million by 2012.
• The company hired former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) to lobby. He stood near the House floor and buttonholed former colleagues in late 2009 as they voted on clearinghouse ownership.
• CEO Robert Greifeld met privately with House and Senate lawmakers during debate on financial reforms.
• It drafted an anonymous flier that circulated on Capitol Hill, denouncing Wall Street firms as an "abusive cartel."
The Justice Dept. is looking into fake letters sent to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that denounce banks' control of swaps clearinghouses, using words similar to the Nasdaq flier. Nasdaq declined to comment.