Tags: Pitt | SEC | Credibility | Goldman

Pitt: SEC Risks Losing Credibility Over Goldman

Friday, 30 Apr 2010 09:29 AM

By Dan Weil

The Securities and Exchange Commission has put its credibility at risk in its prosecution of Goldman Sachs, says former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt.

“The SEC’s recent action against Goldman Sachs gives new meaning to the expression ‘betting the farm,’” says Pitt, now CEO of consultant Kalorama Partners.

“The expression rarely references plaintiffs, and certainly not government-plaintiffs litigating against regulated entities," he contends.

"But to quote Jimmy Breslin, in suing Goldman Sachs, the SEC ‘received immediate lacerations of the credibility,’”  he wrote on The Daily Beast.

Since January 2009, the SEC has made strong progress toward restoring its credibility, says Pitt, who served under President George W. Bush.

“But its suit against Goldman could undo much — if not all — of that effort if the litigation doesn’t turn out satisfactorily, and even if it does, if reports about dissension and political splits are accurate.”

The SEC voted only 3-2 in support of taking action against Goldman, with all three winning votes coming from the agency’s Democrats.

“The problem with litigation is losing,” Pitt wrote.

“But even if the SEC prevails, its reward may prove ephemeral.”

Former federal prosecutor Annemarie McAvoy is skeptical of the SEC’s motives

“It appears likely that the charges may have been brought simply to create a smokescreen hiding other issues that should be discussed,” she wrote in Forbes.

“It diverts attention from troubles facing the SEC, and it gives the president fodder to call for the quick passage of his financial reform bill.”

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