“Is this laughable?” asked Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.).
“No, they say comedy is what happens to someone else and tragedy is what happens to you, so this is a tragedy,” Becker said.
In a prepared statement, Becker said he took a pay cut of more than 90 percent to become SEC general counsel in 2009 and “forfeited millions of dollars to serve my country” at a time of crisis for the agency.
Call of duty
He said he could not refuse when Schapiro recruited him by saying, “David, your country needs you.”
Some of the toughest questions Thursday involved someone who wasn’t on the witness list: former SEC commissioner Annette L. Nazareth.
While four SEC commissioners were left in the dark about Becker’s connection to the Madoff calamity, Nazareth knew about it, the inspector general reported. Representing Madoff victims, she made an appeal to Becker that the agency should recognize the full, phony balances shown on Madoff investors’ account statements, the inspector general reported.
“I was surprised by it,” Schapiro said. “I believe that they are friends.”
“Did it reek of insider, you know, insider doing?” McHenry asked.
“No, not to me,” Schapiro said. She noted that many former SEC officials have professional dealings with the SEC, adding, “It’s a fact of life we live with.”
Nazareth, a lawyer at the firm Davis Polk, did not respond to requests for comment.
The hearing was convened by subcommittees of the House Financial Services Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.