The Securities and Exchange Commission has forbidden its employees from destroying investigative documents, as fallout spreads from a whistleblower’s recent claim that the agency has illegally destroyed thousands of preliminary investigation documents.
An SEC attorney alerted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) of the possible crimes in August. The whistleblower said the documents in question were “matters under inquiry,” including reviews of AIG, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Bernie Madoff.
“This agency has been in knots over its documents policy,” said Grassley, who has requested more information from SEC Chairman Mary Shapiro. “It makes sense to stop destroying records until it figures this out. The agency and the National Archives need to determine what records have to be kept, both for what’s logical for investigations and what’s necessary under federal law.”
The SEC’s internal watchdog is investigating the agency’s document policies and will release reports this month.
“We have been working with [the National Archives and Records Administration] on a new policy for records retention, and have determined to suspend the current policy out of an abundance of caution until a new policy is in place,” said an SEC spokesman.
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