SEC hires outside investigator to probe agency watchdog

SEC spokesman cites allegations of misconduct by current and former agency employees

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will hire an outside investigator to look into alleged misconduct by current and former employees of the agency’s Office of Inspector General.

SEC spokesman John Nester said only that “an individual” had raised the allegations.

“The matter was promptly referred to the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency,” he said in a statement. “We are also in the process of hiring an independent investigator to review the claims.”

Though Nester did not detail the allegations, The Wall Street Journal reports that they are sexual in nature.

The agency’s former inspector general, H. David Kotz, resigned in January after a controversial four-year tenure. Kotz won praise for investigating the SEC’s faulty oversight of financial firms and individuals such as Bear Stearns, Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford. But detractors criticized him for creating a culture of fear with his zealous pursuit of some agency employees, including former general counsel David Becker.

Added to this criticism was the revelation that Kotz interviewed Phillip Cannella, a financial adviser selling “crash-proof” retirement plans, and then accepted tickets to a sold-out NFL football game from him.

In an email Monday, Kotz denied that he was the target of the investigation. “As far as I know, the allegations do not involve me,” he wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For more on the story, visit Bloomberg.

Alanna Byrne

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