John McCain Takes Senior Post on U.S. Senate Investigation Panel

The U.S. Senate panel known for deep investigations of Wall Street, bank money laundering and other corporate malfeasance is getting a new senior Republican leader, John McCain of Arizona.

The former presidential candidate and self-described maverick, is set to take over as ranking member on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, according to Aaron Fobes, a spokesman for the outgoing Republican leader.

McCain will work closely with the panel’s Democratic chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.

“These are two of the most dogged and independent investigators in Washington,” said Reginald Brown, who leads the congressional investigations practice at the WilmerHale law firm in Washington. McCain’s appointment will “enhance the already formidable reputation of the subcommittee.”

The subcommittee is currently completing an investigation of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s wrong-way bet on derivatives that resulted in a loss of more than $6.2 billion during nine months of 2012. JPMorgan released the results of its own review on Jan. 16.

The panel also conducted a two-year inquiry into the financial crisis that featured testimony from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and other top executives. The April 2010 hearing was replayed on news broadcasts as Levin confronted the bank officials with an internal e-mail describing a bond offering as “one shitty deal.”

Money Laundering

In July, the subcommittee held hearings focused on HSBC Holdings Plc’s failure to implement adequate money laundering controls in Mexico -- an investigation that helped lead to a $1.9 billion settlement with regulators. The panel has also conducted high-profile probes of tax shelters and Enron Corp.’s collapse.

By a tradition rare in Congress, the subcommittee’s investigations involve staff members from both the majority and minority parties. As a result, its conclusions are usually bipartisan.

McCain will succeed Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma as the panel’s top Republican, said Fobes. Coburn is becoming the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

McCain showed off his aggressive style of questioning during last week’s confirmation hearing of former Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary. In past years he led congressional investigations into the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and Boeing Co.’s attempts to win an Air Force contract for building in-flight refueling aircraft.