The changes at the SEC continuing apace.
Days after the agency was excoriated by whistleblower Harry Markopolos, and by lawmakers, for failing to catch Bernie Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, CNBC reports that enforcement director Linda Thomsen — whose department came in for perhaps the most criticism over Madoff, will likely announce her departure today.
During Thomsen’s tenure, the SEC has, by many accounts, devoted fewer resources to enforcement, and made it more difficult for investigators to obtain subpoenas — changes led in large part by former chair Chris Cox.
As for Khuzami, he’s a Republican who spoke at the 2004 GOP Convention in support of the Patriot Act and President Bush’s policies in the war on terror. But as a prosecutor, he successfully oversaw some high-profile cases. He was part of the team that got convictions of a blind Egyptian cleric and nine others for a failed plot to blow up New York City landmarks. And, crucially, he led the team that won a conviction on the largest previous known Ponzi scheme, in which Patrick Bennett bilked investors out of $700 million. In 1997, the Clinton Justice Department gave Khuzami its highest citation, the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service.
In addition, on Friday the new SEC chair, Mary Schapiro, named David Becker, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb, as the agency’s top lawyer. Becker held the same position from 2000 to 2002.
So the names on the doors of senior officials are certainly changing. Whether that improves the agency’s regulatory performance, of course, remains to be seen. But the old crew was hardly inspiring confidence.