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Document Shredding: Why SEC's Defense Won't Fly

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The SEC Headquarters in Washington, DC.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Just a quick note about the "Shredded Justice" story, as I’ve had a couple of questions about some of the SEC’s responses to the story.

Several readers pointed to this story in which SEC spokesman John Nester said this:

"We do keep records of our MUI's and they're available to our investigators to learn about previous work on matters that have been reviewed."

Just so readers understand, the SEC in my communications with them on this story drew a distinction between the words records and documents. According to the SEC, they do maintain "records" of Matters Under Inquiry, and by that they appear to mean the line-item entries of the sort Darcy Flynn forwarded to members of congress, an example of which might be:

Party                     MUI #                    Open                     Close     `           Issue

Wells Fargo         MSF-03174         8/24/07             10/23/07        Fraud /Issuer Disc.

So they keep that "record." On the other hand, any documents obtained in connection with the MUI would have been disposed of. So any documents gathered during the brief life of that preliminary investigation – any evidence gathered – would have been tossed. Just wanted readers to be aware and not be confused by any quotes in which the SEC claims it does, in fact, keep "records."

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Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He’s the author of five books and a winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary. Please direct all media requests to taibbimedia@yahoo.com.

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