A senior attorney at the SEC's Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office. He agreed to resign, an earlier watchdog report said.
An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting websites classified as "Sex" or "Pornography." Yet, he still managed to amass a collection of "very graphic" material on his hard drive by using Google images to bypass the SEC's internal filter, according to an earlier report from the inspector general. The accountant refused to testify in his defense and received a 14-day suspension.
This occurred under Christopher Cox's watch. Christopher Cox, George W. Bush's SEC Chairman, was asleep at the switch during the run up to the global financial crisis and he needs to be held accountable for failures like this. This failure to crack down on employees' porn habit is a sign of of the kind of inefficient and incapable office he ran. He needs to answer questions about his incompetence and failures. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission should subpoena Cox and hear his testimony.
A federal panel said Wednesday that it had issued a subpoena to the credit-rating agency Moody’s Investors Service after the firm failed to promptly respond to its request for documents and e-mail messages, Sewell Chan writes in The New York Times.
The subpoena suggested an intensified activity by the bipartisan panel, known as the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was created to examine the causes of the financial crisis.
It was the first such subpoena issued by the panel, which was created by Congress last year and is required to complete its findings by Dec. 15. The panel has been criticized for getting off to a slow start and being unfocused in its inquiry, given the wide scope of its mandate.
The FCIC needs to do more of this. They should continue by issuing a subpoena to Christopher Cox, Bush's man at the SEC. Cox was asleep at the switch and has a lot of questions to answer. It's high time for him to answer them and be held accountable for his role in bringing about the financial crisis.
A $7 BILLION ponzi scheme. The SEC knew about it in 1997. But, no action was taken against the scheme until 2009. TPM Muckracker has the story:
In news buried by the Goldman fraud charges, the Inspector General for the SEC issued a blistering 159-page report Friday concluding that the agency's Fort Worth office knew that Texas businessman Allen Stanford was operating a Ponzi scheme in 1997 -- but didn't make a serious effort to pursue the matter for eight years, until 2005.
Stanford, a flamboyant Texas billionaire, is currently in jail facing charges of operating a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
The inspector general's report paints the enforcement section of the Fort Worth office as the main culprit. The IG concludes:
"[T]he SEC's Fort Worth office was aware since 1997 that Robert Allen Stanford was likely operating a Ponzi scheme, having come to that conclusion a mere two years after Stanford Group Company ('SGC'), Stanford's investment adviser, registered with the SEC in 1995. We found that over the next 8 years, the SEC's Fort Worth Examination group conducted four examinations of Stanford's operations, finding in each examination that the CDs could not have been 'legitimate,' and that it was 'highly unlikely' that the returns Stanford claimed to generate could have been achieved with the purported conservative investment approach.
Fort Worth examiners dutifully conducted examinations of Stanford in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2004, concluding in each case that Stanford's CDs were likely a Ponzi scheme or a similar fraudulent scheme. The only significant difference in the Examination group's findings over the years was that the potential fraud grew exponentially, from $250 million to $1.5 billion."
This is a massive failure on the part of the SEC. For too long, a revolving door between the SEC and Wall Street has created an agency that is incapable of enforcing the law. SEC leaders sat idly buy as more and more innocent people fell victim to Allen Stanford. That must not happen again. The SEC and our financial regulatory environment need reform.
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Some of the biggest news coming out of last week's Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission were the apologies from the banksters. But, the FCIC is not a body for bankster catharsis. As the New York Times points out, the commission should be aggressively pursuing the truth.
The latest public hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, held last week, made headlines for eliciting more apologies from financiers who presided over the market collapse.
You may recall a similar flurry last year, when Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, was widely credited for having apologized for his firm’s role in the financial crisis.
We did not buy it then; Mr. Blankfein never said what he was sorry for or to whom he was apologizing. And we are not buying it now.
Mr. Prince says he “could not” foresee the impending collapse, when he could have and should have seen it coming. Certainly, others did. Mr. Rubin has said that under his employment agreement, he was not responsible for the bank’s operations. But he was a towering figure at Citi, a source of its credibility and prestige. That implies responsibility, no matter what his contract said. Add all that to the “I wasn’t the only one” context of both men’s comments, and their regret translates as, “We feel bad about an accident we were powerless to prevent.”
Except that the financial crisis was not an accident and they were not powerless. The crisis was the result of irresponsibility and misjudgments by many people, including Mr. Prince and Mr. Rubin. Citi, under their leadership, epitomized the financial recklessness that ruined the economy.
More important, the “apologies” are distractions. The purpose of the inquiry is not catharsis. It is to determine the causes of the crisis and present the truth. A successful inquiry would compel the government to take appropriate corrective action.
The commission has managed to unearth some compelling testimony. (Last week’s hearings produced detailed evidence of how the mortgage-investment pipeline came to be stuffed with toxic loans.) But the inquiry can strangely lack vigor. It has not issued any subpoenas for documents — satisfied so far with voluntary submissions — and does not administer oaths to witnesses it interviews in private. Lying to a federal investigator is illegal under oath or not, but experience shows that taking an oath is a powerful incentive to tell the whole truth.
The commission is supposed to finish its work by Dec. 15. In the meantime, Congress’s efforts at financial reform appear to be weakened daily by politicians who are more concerned with campaign donations than regulating the financial system. This week, for instance, a Senate committee is expected to propose new regulations for derivatives that are more loophole than rule.
The Commission needs to hold more hearings, issue subpoenas, get to the bottom of what happened and hold people accountable. In particular, the failures of former regulators like Christopher Cox need to be exposed. Never again should the people writing and enforcing the rules be beholden to the big banks instead of the public.