SCwatch


S.E.C. of USA – SECURITIES REGULATOR OR “SECURITIES CONSPIRATOR”?
Much has been written (not by Malaysiakini though) since the start of the global financial crisis with sub-prime loans that had been packaged with triple A ratings and then sold to clients the world over.
These packaged loans were usually acquired via Special Investment Vehicles …. hence the sick joke as to whether companies or countries were SIV positive!
The latest scam to come out from this crisis is the Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff and what has been reported has elicited a “So what else is new?” response.
What I have however noticed is that there is always a “fall guy” or somebody to blame for the fall out. In the last high profile Enron and Worldcom fall-out in 2002, it was the auditors who faced the brunt of the criticism, with comments like:-
a) the auditing fraternity  suffer not from a few bad apples but from a rotten orchard;
b) auditors are vigorous in youth, complacent in middle age and in older age, they become the “arms and tools” of the industry that they are supposed to oversee/report on; and
c) personnel from the auditing fraternity qualified as accountants only by virtue of their ability to “count”, not “account”!
Cruel comments, no doubt.
This time round, the roles (or the lack of it!) of the Securities and Exchange Commission of the USA, and to a lesser extent, the UK’s Financial Services Authority, have been heavily criticised in this latest crisis. Comments include:-
a) The regulators have been asleep at the switch ……. people are feeling frustrated that there is not a lot of adult supervision out there …. (Obama);
b) The SEC had not used legal powers to seek information about Madoff’s business in the past but that instead SEC staff relied upon information voluntarily produced by Mr Madoff and his firm …… (Christopher Cox, out-going SEC Chairman);
c) Bluntly speaking, supervision has been carried out on the cheap ….. (Lord Turner, new Chairman of FSA);
d) The SEC’s belief in the wisdom of the market is infinite. SEC became enablers instead of enforcers … (Alan Greenspan); and
e) Mary Schapiro (SEC Chairman-designate) will need to revive a depleted, demoralised and dysfunctional regulator while making sure that clamour for tighter regulation does not hamstring US business ….. (comment from prominent financial daily).
So the auditors and regulators have taken the wrap to date. Who’s next? Maybe the independent directors, valuers, or the bankers! But there will be one group that will somehow find themselves out of the “finger pointing” game – the lawyers.
How do they do it? I don’t know …. but somehow they do!
Someone did tell me that lawyers have such a reputation that more than 2,000 years ago, a wise person (some call him Son of God, another call him a prophet and one other, an enlightened being) even castigated the legal profession then with this recorded remark:-
Woe to you lawyers for you load others with burdens hard to bear, yet you yourselves do not touch these burdens with even one of your fingers!
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