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News September 6, 2004 Issue

It Never Looked That Cool When We Were There

SEC alums will want to check out the agency’s slick new recruitment video.

Produced in a CSI Miami-esque style, the video is designed to encourage recent graduates to consider joining the SEC. "The feeling is that you’re part of something bigger than you could have ever imagined," enthuses one SEC staffer.

Actually, watching the video, the feeling is that the SEC would make a really cool nightclub. That music! All those stock tickers flashing in the background!

Division of Investment Management director Paul Roye plays a starring role. "There are some out there who participate in the marketplace who are dishonest," he explains over the drumbeat. "Our job is to deal with those individuals and hold them accountable."

If you look close, you can spot outgoing division deputy director Cynthia Fornelli a few times in the background (hmmm . . . looks like she’s studying a document . . . IM Insight’s forensics lab is enhancing the image to determine whether it is, in fact, a draft of Form ADV Part 2).

The piece also features Internet enforcement chief John Reed Stark, but somehow fails to mention that he was once one of People magazine’s most eligible bachelors.

All those Congressional budget increases seem to be having an impact. It appears as though many SEC staffers now work with the equivalent of the Nasdaq MarketSite on the walls behind their desks (quite a change from the days of pink walls, officemates, and salvaged furniture, eh?).

But some things haven’t changed. Notice all those people walking around (often in front of the camera). Don’t they have jobs to do?

For a radically different look at the SEC, check out the SEC’s Office of Inspector General’s semi-annual report, covering up to March 2004. Among other things, it recounts SEC staff shenanigans such as falsification of credentials and abuse of e-mail, as well as more serious matters such as workplace abuse and assault. We learn that the Office conducted a "limited evaluation" of Investment Management’s internal controls to prevent the release of non-public no-action letter documents to the public.

There’s also reference to a case involving an SEC employee’s conflict of interest, which was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ declined to prosecute.