SEC Acknowledges Flawed Employee-Review System

May 2 2007 | 2:11pm ET

In the wake of its public flogging by Congress over its alleged reluctance to interview John Mack in an insider-trading case, the Securities and Exchange Commission acknowledged this week that its employee-review process is flawed.

An internal audit, conducted by the SEC’s inspector general, found, among other flaws, that reviews “were not completed or were completed late,” that supervisors failed to retain documents for more than a dozen current and former employees, and that supervisors are reluctant to give “unacceptable” ratings to new employees—which allows them to earn potentially undeserved merit raises. “Employees with performance problems may not receive accurate assessments of their performance and suggestions for improvement during their appraisal,” the report said.

That line may be directed squarely at Gary Aguirre, the former SEC lawyer who says he was fired when he pushed to interview Mack in a case involving hedge fund Pequot Capital Management, where Mack served as chairman before becoming CEO of Morgan Stanley. Aguirre had pointed to his two-step merit pay increase, received only days before he was fired, allegedly for poor performance, as evidence his dismissal was motivated by a desire on the SEC’s part to protect Mack.

But the report also found undated “supplemental” performance memoranda for two employees, of which Aguirre was one, he told Dow Jones Newswires. Aguirre claims his performance, and that of another lawyer his managers thought “was in league” with Aguirre, was reevaluated after he complained about the “special treatment” he claimed Mack was receiving. Linda Thomsen, the SEC enforcement director who told a Senate committee last year that Aguirre was fired for “inability to work effectively with other staff and his unwillingness to operate within the Securities and Exchange Commission process,” acknowledged in the report that such supplemental reviews “are not typically prepared.”

The SEC said it will implement changes to its employee-review system in fiscal year 2008.

RELATED STORIES:

Senators Issue Damning Report On SEC Pequot Probe
Former Pequot Prober Defends Self Against Journal's Slings And Arrows
Second SEC Critic Of Mack Probe Testifies
Senator: Probe 'Supportive' Of Fired Lawyer's Pequot Claims


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