By Jacqueline Bell (May 2, 2008, 12:00 AM EDT) -- It's true that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission doesn't often bring fraud charges against the mayor of an American city. But shock value isn't why Wall Street is tuning in to the agency's recently launched case against the mayor of Birmingham, Ala. Many are wondering whether the headline-grabbing lawsuit will allow the SEC to clarify its regulatory power over a type of complex financial instrument, possibly delivering a "dramatic blow" to banks and hedge funds.
On Wednesday, the SEC charged Birmingham mayor Larry Langford and two of his friends with cooking up a kickback scheme related to municipal bond offerings...
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