Just one week after the Securities and Exchange Commission’s inspector general revealed that the SEC knew about Allen Stanford alleged Ponzi scheme since 1997 but failed to act, a clearer picture on the reasons for its incompetence is emerging: Its senior staffers were spending hours a day surfing porn sites on the Internet.

The SEC’s inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press, 31 of which occurred in the 2.5 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed. Seventeen of the employees were “at a senior level,” earning salaries of up to $222,418. The memo, first reported last night by ABC News, was written by SEC Inspector General David Kotz in response to a request from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Among the shocking findings of how SEC employees spent their time while the likes of Bernie Madoff and Stanford were helping put our economy on the verge of collapse:

•A senior attorney at the SEC’s Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office.
• An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting Web sites classified as “Sex” or “Pornography.” Yet he still managed to amass a collection of “very graphic” material on his hard drive by using Google images to bypass the SEC’s internal filter. The accountant refused to testify in his defense, and received a 14-day suspension.

Read more here.

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