SEC head under fire as ex-official says he got OK

By the Associated Press | September 22, 2011 | 5:40 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission is facing increased scrutiny from lawmakers as a former top SEC official says he was cleared to work on how victims of Bernard Madoff's scheme should be compensated, even though he benefited financially from Madoff's scheme.

The former SEC general counsel, David Becker, says in written testimony he was told by agency ethics officials he had no conflict of interest in helping craft the SEC policy.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro was criticized at a House hearing Thursday for allowing Becker to help set the policy even though he told her he had inherited a Madoff account from his mother.

The SEC inspector general has investigated the matter and asked the Justice Department to determine whether Becker violated conflict-of-interest laws.