Friday, April 20, 2012

SEC Porn: An Old Problem

This is news to me, but apparently it's from April 23 of 2010: "SEC Porn Problem: Officials Surfing Sites During Financial Crisis, Report Finds (by Jonathan Karl, Ki Mae Heussner, ABC News): A new government report obtained by ABC News has concluded that some senior employees spent hours on the agency's computers looking at porn sites as the financial crisis was unfolding. "These guys in the middle of a financial crisis are spending their time looking at prurient material on the internet," said Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland and former director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. "It's reckless, and indicates a contempt for the taxpayer and the taxpayer's interest in monitoring financial markets," Morici said. The investigation, conducted by the SEC's internal watchdog found 31 serious offenders during the past two and a half years. 17 of the alleged offenders were senior SEC officers whose salaries ranged from $100,000 to $222,000 per year. One senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington spent up to 8 hours a day accessing internet porn, according to the report, which has yet to be released. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices. An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive. Another SEC accountant used his SEC-issued computer to upload his own sexually explicit videos onto porn websites he joined. And another SEC accountant attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month. In one case, the report noted, an employee tried hundreds of times to access pornographic sites and was denied access. When he used a flash drive, he successfully bypassed the filter to visit a "significant number" of porn sites. The employee also said he deliberately disabled a filter in Google to access inappropriate sites. After management informed him that he would lose his job, the employee resigned. A similar SEC report for October 2008 to March 2009 said that a regional supervisor in Los Angeles accessed and attempted to access pornographic and sexually explicit web sites up to twice a day from his SEC computer during work hours. The report concluded that most of the cases began in 2008, just as the financial system began to collapse, and the problem hasn't stopped." (via Zero Hedge.com)  This old article makes me wonder: a) if the SEC has something to do with the virtual disappearance from the airwaves of Professor Morici, a no-holds-barred analyst of the financial crisis who I always enjoyed listening to.  (The only time he is heard from now is on photocopier advertisements.)  And: b) if I haven't been laying too much blame for the financial meltdown on Wall Street versus government regulators.