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SEC Officials Hire Lawyers Amid Ethics Scrutiny

Posted Sep 15, 2011 9:05 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Several current and former officials with the Securities and Exchange Commission are hiring lawyers amid increased scrutiny by Congress and the agency’s inspector general.

Even SEC chairman Mary Schapiro has legal representation, the Washington Post reports. Lawyer Richard Sauber accompanied Schapiro when she met in April with SEC Inspector General David Kotz, who is investigating what he says was a $557 million lease for office space that wasn’t needed.

Two former SEC officials have hired lawyers in a probe of alleged conflicts of interest in work involving Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, the story says. Former SEC general counsel David Becker is represented by William Baker III, and former SEC ethics counsel William Lenox is represented pro bono by Harvey Pitt, a former SEC chairman.

Becker, who served two stints as general counsel, didn’t recuse himself in Madoff policy matters regarding victim compensation when he returned to the agency in 2009, even though his late mother had allegedly earned $1.5 million in fictitious profits from Madoff. Becker has said he didn’t recuse himself based on advice from ethics counsel Lenox, who concluded Becker’s work didn’t have a direct effect on his financial interests.

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