The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is in an unenviable position of late. Between dropping the ball on the Bernie Madoff scheme, and failing to pick up on the danger Wall Street’s biggest banks were in, the Commission is struggling to show it’s still in control.
“I am gravely concerned by the apparent multiple failures over at least a decade to thoroughly investigate these allegations or at any point to seek formal authority to pursue them,” chairman Christopher Cox said in a press release last week. He blames his staff for failing to dig deeper into the case, saying, “a consequence of the failure to seek a formal order of investigation from the Commission is that subpoena power was not used to obtain information, but rather the staff relied upon information voluntarily produced by Mr. Madoff and his firm.”
After news of Madoff’s scheme broke, Cox ordered a “full and immediate review” of past allegations to determine why they did not merit investigation when they were made, to be conducted by the SEC’s inpector general. Also under review are SEC policies determining when it is appropriate to bring allegations to the Commissioners’ attention.