The men who stare at porn

You know the Securities and Exchange Commission? The Wall Street watchdog that’s tasked by the American government with overseeing the financial services industry? Ever wondered what these guys were doing when the financial services industry went tits up?

Answer: some at least of their senior officers were spending all day browsing for porn on their government-issue computers. Some examples from an official report:

_ A senior attorney at the SEC’s Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office. He agreed to resign, an earlier watchdog report said.

_ An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting websites classified as “Sex” or “Pornography.” Yet he still managed to amass a collection of “very graphic” material on his hard drive by using Google images to bypass the SEC’s internal filter, according to an earlier report from the inspector general. The accountant refused to testify in his defense, and received a 14-day suspension.

_ Seventeen of the employees were “at a senior level,” earning salaries of up to $222,418.

_ The number of cases jumped from two in 2007 to 16 in 2008. The cracks in the financial system emerged in mid-2007 and spread into full-blown panic by the fall of 2008.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said it was “disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at porn than taking action to help stave off the events that put our nation’s economy on the brink of collapse.”

He said in a statement that SEC officials “were preoccupied with other distractions” when they should have been overseeing the growing problems in the financial system.

In other words, when the watchdogs heard the phrase “tits up”, it probably didn’t occur to them that this was something to do with the industry they were overseeing.

4 Comments

  1. FlyingRodent said,

    April 23, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Well, the Bush administration did tell the industry regulators to go fuck themselves. Boom Boom.

    I doubt anyone wants to know this, but I have a recurring nightmare about using my computer at work quite innocently, only to have the screen fill with uncontrollable amounts of horrible porno that I can’t switch off. If anyone knows any psychologists, they could probably tear that one apart in about two seconds… It probably isn’t necessary to call in Robbie Coltrane in Cracker when Robbie Savage on Sky Sports would do.

    Plus, it isn’t the regulators who most deserve to be herded onto the ledge and shoved off with cattle prods, since the whole point of the Bush regulatory policy was to crush the regulators – it’s the ratings agencies, who were in this stuff up to their eyeballs. Still funny as hell, though.

  2. N said,

    April 23, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Banking makes you blind.

  3. Paul Evans said,

    April 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Wankers indeed. Seen this bit of astroturfing?

    http://www.prwatch.org/node/9020


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