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SEC lax in monitoring firms’ compliance, inspector general report says

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SECThe Securities and Exchange Commission doesn’t just enforce the rules that govern Wall Street. When asked, it often grants individual companies exemptions from the rules. But companies that win those special breaks often fail to comply with the conditions that come with them, the SEC’s inspector general said in a report released Thursday.

What’s more, the agency has no formalized process for monitoring whether companies live up to their end of the bargain, the report said. Though the agency routinely inspects financial firms, “only in rare cases” did the examiners focus on that question, the report said.

The inspector general’s report was another in a series the office has written criticizing the SEC’s performance. Others have focused on agency spending, Ponzi scheme probes and pornography viewed on staff computers. On Thursday, the inspector general targeted the agency’s ability to keep tabs on enforcement.

The SEC both writes and polices a panoply of rules, many of them highly technical, which are meant to protect clients of investment firms and shareholders in public companies. It routinely gives companies a green light to disregard specific requirements.

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