WASHINGTON -- Rep, Edward Markey has urged the SEC to punish securities firms that retaliate against whistle-blowers following a report that Merrill Lynch & Co. laid off a municipal bond trader who reported.excessive markups of bonds and other abuses to firm officials.

"These reports, if true, raise disturbing questions about the treatment of whistleblowers at securities firms and about the efficacy of broker-dealer internal controls, Supervisory policies and securities industry self-regulation," the Massachusetts Democrat told Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt in a letter.

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