SEC, Former Attorney, Explain Conflict

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Former Securities and Exchange Commission General Counsel David Becker said he has suffered from the controversy surrounding Bernard Madoff’s fraud victims.

Becker has been criticized for helping make decisions on how victims of Madoff’s multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme would receive recovered assets, even though his family benefited from their investment with Madoff’s firm.

The Washington Post reported Friday Becker, in testimony before a joint committee on Capitol Hill, said: “I didn’t think I had a conflict. I did precisely what I was supposed to do.”

He also said, “This has been a dreadful experience for me.”

Although the controversy flared up, Becker said before he participated in helping form decisions on recovered funds, he disclosed the possible conflict of interest to the SEC chairman and then brought up the matter with the regulator’s ethics officer. Both gave him the go ahead to participate in the decisions, he said.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro agreed with a decision to send a substitute for Becker to a 2009 hearing on the fraud case because Becker would have had to make a public statement on his family’s involvement, which would have been “likely to divert attention,” from more important matters.

She also said there were more pressing matters on her mind than divulging the issue with SEC commissioners.

Becker and a brother reportedly inherited the Madoff account and closed it soon after. The court-appointed trustee assigned to recover funds for victims, has filed a lawsuit against Becker to recover profits the family made from the $2 million account.

Becker also said he took a 90 percent pay cut to work at the SEC after Schapiro told him in 2009, in the midst of a financial crisis, “David, your country needs you.”

In switching from the private sector Becker said he “forfeited millions of dollars to serve my country.”

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