. The seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange CommissionWASHINGTON The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday said it was reviewing filings and seeking clearer disclosures for special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), underscoring concerns around fees, conflicts and sponsor compensation. The statement marks one of the strongest public remarks yet from the top U.S. markets regulator as it steps up scrutiny of SPACs, an increasingly popular way to take firms public. The shell companies raise funds via a listing to acquire a private company with the purpose of taking it public, sidestepping the traditional initial public offering process. Staff "are reviewing these filings, seeking clearer disclosure, and providing guidance to registrants and the public," John Coates, acting director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, said in a statement. Any claims that SPACs present less liability exposure for participants is "overstated at best," Coates said, highlighting an issue that has been called out by investor advocates and other SPAC critics. Coates detailed some of the SEC's concerns about SPACs at an event earlier this week. The agency has also warned dealmakers to follow regulatory demands and last month launched an inquiry into how underwriters are managing the risks involved.