Instead of sending Becker, the SEC sent one of his subordinates, deputy solicitor Michael A. Conley, to explain the SEC’s position, according to the source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Much later, when the liquidated account came to light, it became a major black eye for the SEC. Lawmakers accused the agency of glossing over a potential conflict of interest.
Inspector general’s report
As SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz prepares to issue a report on his probe of the Becker matter, the decision to have someone else testify for the SEC is coming under scrutiny. It has been a point of inquiry in the inspector general’s probe, the source said.
A second person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for the same reason, said the episode raises a question: Did the SEC keep Becker and the Madoff account out of the congressional spotlight because it realized it had a problem, even as the agency allowed Becker to help shape its policy on Madoff’s victims?
Becker and SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro discussed the fact that someone else would be testifying instead of Becker, the first source said.
Becker, through attorney William Baker III, declined to comment.
Conley did not return a call for comment. Eric J. Spitler, the SEC’s head of legislative affairs, referred questions to the agency’s public affairs office.
John Nester, the head of public affairs, declined to comment in advance of the inspector general’s report, and the inspector general declined to comment on the substance of his investigation. He said he plans to circulate his report within the SEC by the end of next week. The oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee is planning to hold a hearing on the matter after that.
The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.), said Friday that he wants “to make sure that this agency holds itself internally to the same standards that it holds the people that it regulates.”
The Becker matter is one of several agency investigations that the inspector general is wrapping up. Others involve the destruction of documents from closed enforcement cases and an anonymous tip that preferential treatment prompted the SEC to pull its punches in a Wall Street investigation. Another about the SEC’s conduct in a case involving Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been completed but not released to the public.