Three top executives at the American Stock Exchange are facing possible regulatory action, the exchange said late Thursday.

The potential regulatory charges stem from an investigation by the

Securities and Exchange Commission

into the Amex's options order handling process.

The exchange said the three executives recently received Wells notices from the SEC, alerting them to the possibility of an enforcement action. The three executives under regulatory scrutiny are Amex CEO Salvatore F. Sodano, Amex President Peter Quick and General Counsel Michael J. Ryan.

In light of the looming SEC action, the Amex's board of governors has appointed a special committee to oversee issues relating to the investigation.

The regulatory investigation could complicate the NASD's plans to sell the Amex to the exchange's membership. The exchange said the special committee also "will also take responsibility for working with the SEC on activities related to the sale."

The options investigation isn't the only regulatory headache facing the Amex.

Earlier this year the NASD revealed that federal prosecutors were looking into the relationship between the Amex and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. The civil antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice is focusing on an alleged "product allocation agreement" between the two options trading markets.