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SEC’s Inspector General Is Investigating Former Top Lawyer

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March 4 (Bloomberg) -- H. David Kotz, inspector general of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said he is investigating former general counsel David M. Becker’s role in the agency’s Bernard Madoff policies after Becker inherited profits from his parents’ investment with the jailed financier.

Kotz said in an e-mail today that he was probing the matter, which also has been the subject of inquiries to the SEC from Republican lawmakers.

Becker, 63, and his brothers inherited about $2 million from their parents’ Madoff account, which they liquidated after their mother’s death in 2004. Irving H. Picard, the bankruptcy court trustee unwinding Madoff’s business, said $1.5 million of that is fraudulent profit and has filed a lawsuit to recover it -- one of hundreds Picard has filed against banks and others to claw back $100 billion of what he terms phony gains.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro “requested an inspector general review to ensure an independent gathering and analysis of the relevant facts,” John Nester, an SEC spokesman, said today in a telephone interview.

Becker has said that his work on Madoff matters was cleared by the agency’s ethics counsel. He said his departure from the agency last week was unrelated to Picard’s lawsuit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Hamilton in Washington at jhamilton33@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net.