Tag Archives: SEC

Troubled Freddie Mac exec was “straight arrow”

James Lockhart, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency
James Lockhart, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency

The chief financial officer at Freddie Mac who died in an apparent suicide was a capable executive who had no involvement in any improper accounting, according to Freddie Mac’s federal regulator.

“David (Kellermann) was a very conscientious and hard-working person and took, unfortunately, too much onto himself,” James Lockhart, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, told the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington.

Kellermann was found dead on April 22 in the basement of his Virginia home after having hung himself, local police sources said. Some news reports at the time tied Kellermann’s death to ongoing federal investigations into Freddie Mac’s accounting.

“You know, one of the things I find unfortunate? Some of the speculation about accounting issues at Freddie. They are very rigorous,” Lockhart said. He described Kellermann as a “straight arrow” whose reputation was above reproach and said that the failings at Freddie Mac were widely shared.

Last September, federal regulators took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the the companies losses on the housing market mounted.

“Yes, we’re seeing significant losses but from my standpoint and my chief accountant’s standpoint, from the two auditing firms that were auditing them, from a loss reserving standpoint, they were following” proper accounting standards, Lockhart said.

SEC’s Schapiro says journalist job cuts worrying

Mary Schapiro, America's new top cop for the securities industry, said the current mass culling of journalists' jobs is a concern because it could reduce the number of leads that regulators get as they seek to crack down on nefarious behavior.

"It's an absolute worry for me because I think financial journalists have in many cases been the sources of some really important enforcement cases and really important discovery of practices and products that regulators should be profoundly concerned about," the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission told the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington on Tuesday.

"But for journalists having been dogged and determined and really pursuing some of these things, they might not be known to the regulators or they might not be known for a long time," she said.

But Schapiro, who was speaking a day after Conde Nast announced the closure of its glossy business magazine Portfolio only about two years after it launched, held out some hope for the business reporting trade. She said that some journalists should consider applying for jobs at the SEC.

"Investigative journalism actually would be a pretty interesting skill set for us to have. We've talked about financial analysis, we've talked about forensic accounting being skill sets that we really need -- understanding of complex trading, strategies and systems, but it's one of the things the SEC has to do. It has to really broaden its horizons and bring in people who think about things a little differently than it has historically."

But what would having Mr/Ms Investigative Journalist working there do for the SEC's tarnished media image? And how would a hard-nosed investigative journalist respond to all those agreements to let some of the bad guys off with a rap over the knuckles and a small fine (those infamous "did not admit or deny" settlements)?