FOIA to SEC about GameStop trading activity denied due to active investigation

Walk with us through this timeline.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2021: FOIA request initiated

Upside Chronicles submitted request regarding correspondence between the Securities and Exchange Commission, Citadel, and the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) regarding the trading of GameStop Corp. securities during the year of 2021. The initial request was submitted on April 27th, 2021, and read as follows:

Hi there!

We are a small financial news site doing a research article on the GameStop saga.
As part of our FOIA request, we’d like to request any correspondence between the SEC, Citadel, the DTCC/DTC/NCSS relating to GameStop stock in the year 2021.
We feel there is an urgency considering many retail investors feel left in the dark about what is happening with this security on the backend, despite ongoing unusual activity.
Thank you!
The Editors of Upside Chronicles
P.S., We tried to fill out the submission form online, but the reCaptca didn’t work and the page refresh eliminated all the input in the form fields.
Screenshot of correspondence

Friday, April 30th, 2021: FOIA request response – follow up

The Office of FOIA Services for the Securities Exchange Commission responds requesting a physical address for Upside Chronicles. they also inform UC that there may be a processing fee to process the request. UC agrees to the fees and provides a request. 

This follow up was sent as a reply to the initial request submitted by Upside Chronicles, as well as a separate email chain.

Tuesday, May 5th, 2021

Upside responded to the with the requested information as well as agreed to pay the fee for request processing. Request moves forward.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2021

The Office of FOIA Services for the Securities Exchange Commission send Upside a letter of acknowledgment of the request. The request is coded as FOIA-PA – 21-01690-FOIA.

FOIA acknowledgment letter

 

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021: FOIA Office of the SEC requests more information

Upside receives a follow-up email from the Office of FOIA Services for the Securities Exchange Commission.

To surmise, the FOIA representatives and the SEC wanted to to narrow the scope of the question. They also wanted to confirm what the DTCC is.

Please note: This request was sent as a reply to Upside‘s original email thread, as well as a separate email thread.

screenshot of FOIA request responds from the SEC re: GameStop trading
Proof or ban

 

Friday, May 21, 2021: Upside Chronicles responds

Upside Chronicles responded to both threads with clarifying information, indulging what the DTCC is (Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation) as well as the scope of the request.

Screenshot of email correspondence with FOIA Office for the SEC

Monday, May 24th, 2021

Upside Chronicles follows up to ensure the FOIA Office of the SEC has all the information they need to proceed with the request.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

FOIA Office for the SEC confirms they have all the information the need to process the request.

Monday June 10th, 2021: FOIA response received by Upside Chronicles (8:23 am, PST)

screenshot of actual correspondence between upside and the FOIA office of the SEC
Proof or ban

FOIA Office of the SEC provides the following response:

FOIA Office of the SEC response letter to Upside Chronicle’s request

Upside Chronicles found this particular passage to be of importance:

We are withholding records that may be responsive to your request under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(A). This exemption protects from disclosure records compiled for law enforcement purposes, the release of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement activities. Since Exemption 7(A) protects the records from disclosure, we have not determined if other exemptions apply. Therefore, we reserve the right to assert other exemptions when Exemption 7(A) no longer applies. 

According to the Department of Justice’s website, the is not required to provide information requested via the Freedom of Information Act:

Whenever a request is made which involves access to records described in subsection (b)(7)(A) and—

(A) the investigation or proceeding involves a possible violation of criminal law;

In other words, because the requested information was part of an active investigation, it was legally exempted from Freedom of Information Act requests.

Despite the GameStop saga making headlines and dragging on for several months, including prompting numerous Congressional hearings as well as a mass user exodus from Robinhood after the trading platform disabled buying – but not selling – of GameStop Corps stock, the SEC did not officially open an investigation until mid June.

The mainstream media began reporting on the SEC investigation into GameStop stock trading action around the same time the FOIA office of the SEC denied Upside Chronicle‘s request.

Reporting on SEC investigation into GameStop Securities trading didn’t happen until Mid June, despite months of unusual trading activity and numerous trading halts.

While the SEC’s investigation into GameStop stock trading was announced a week ago, considering the GameStop saga has been dragging on for months, the timing of the official investigation’s launch is…interesting, to say the least.

But better late than never?

Rest assured, Upside Chronicles will be keeping up on the SEC’s investigation of GameStop securities trading as price action has suggested that the GameStop saga is anything but over.

Jack Tazman is a Baltimore, Maryland native. He attended Washington University where he studied political science.

Since then, he worked as a writer for various national news organizations specializing in politics and policy.

He now resides in New York City as a freelance writer and political consultant.

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