More S.E.C. Ethics Blindness

What good is a blind watchdog?

Back in February, I told the tale of David Becker, former S.E.C. General Counsel, who had inherited money from his mother that was really the fruits of the Bernie Madoff investment scandal after he had served in the post while Madoff was merrily swindling people as the S.E.C. twiddled its thumbs. Becker apparently wasn’t in the information chain that should have led the S.E.C. to stop Madoff , and the scandal was uncovered after he left the agency. In 2009, after the Madoff mess had exploded, he rejoined the agency in his old job, but when it came to light that he and his brothers had inherited $2 million Madoff-manufactured profits from their mother, he quickly stepped down. My view was that Becker was a victim of circumstance: he had the appearance of impropriety, but hadn’t done anything wrong.

I should have known better: after all, this is the Securities and Exchange Commission, where they illegally shred files and the regulators look at porn all day. Now it is revealed thatContinue reading

Uncaring, Unremorseful, and Rich…But Not Unethical

"You question my priorities?"

Columnist Carolyn Hax, who gives wise and witty relationship advice, has a sure instinct for ethics though the word doesn’t often appear in her column. It did today, though…and it didn’t belong there.

A woman wrote Hax to ask if it was “okay” to break off a long-time friendship “over ethics.”  Her college roommate made millions “off the recession” as an investment banker, and had retired wealthy at 35. A professedly non materialistic college professor, the writer was bothered that her ex-roomie had “no remorse or feeling for the people who are losing their homes or jobs.” She felt her retired and well-off friend should be “volunteering or doing something worthwhile” instead of travelling and “complaining about her portfolio.” Continue reading