The Securities and Exchange Commission asked the FBI to review the evidence behind the forced resignation this summer of an SEC employee accused of sending secret information on U.S. high-technology companies to China, government sources said.
The SEC's inspector general asked for the review this week after the Washington Times wrote about the resignation of the employee, Mylene Chan, and quoted unidentified sources suggesting that she had engaged in an act of "economic espionage" that was "covered up" by the SEC.
The FBI review is to make sure that the SEC did everything it should have in its inspector general's investigation, and to determine if information about the incident was improperly concealed, government sources said.
The inspector general reviewed Chan's activity at the SEC's Division of Corporate Finance, where she was an employee for less than a year, then sent the information to a U.S. attorney's office, either in the District or in Virginia, a source familiar with the matter said.
Justice Department prosecutors issued a "declination," which meant they decided it was unlikely that Chan's actions were criminal, sources said. The conclusion was that "whatever was done was done inadvertently," the source said.
Chan has left the agency, but her telephone voice mail at the SEC still operates. She could not be reached for comment.
The SEC's inspector general, Walter Stachnik, declined to comment yesterday.
Chan was reported to have sent to China confidential information that companies submitted to the SEC to help agency staff understand financial statements.