A nonprofit watchdog asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate its former corporate finance head, Bill Hinman, now a Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP senior adviser, claiming statements he made about cryptocurrencies while at the agency may have presented a conflict of interest.
Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research claims Hinman didn’t follow instructions that the SEC’s ethics office gave him to avoid conflicts tied to his financial interests in Simpson Thacher, including the firm’s connection to the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, or EEA, according to a letter the group sent Monday to the SEC’s Office of the Inspector General.
“Directives without compliance monitoring and sanctions for noncompliance are not meaningful; they are window dressings,” said Jason Foster, president of Empower Oversight, in an announcement about the letter.
Foster, who launched Empower Oversight in July 2021, called for a “comprehensive” report from the SEC’s Office of Inspector General into the matter, noting that this “could increase transparency and enhance public trust by recommending meaningful improvements to the ethics policies and procedures at the SEC.”
Empower Oversight said the SEC’s inspector general should probe the “degree to which the conflict” involving Hinman “exacerbated the perception that the SEC’s enforcement actions have selectively targeted some cryptocurrencies while giving others a free pass.”
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