In 1997, Securities and Exchange Commission officials became aware of a Ponzi scheme operated by R. Allen Stanford, who now lives in the Virgin Islands. Yet criminal charges were not filed against Stanford, who took $7 billion from investors, until February 2009.
The timeline - a 12-year delay in SEC action to stop Stanford - was revealed through an investigation by the agency's inspector general.
Recently, several senators in a hearing involving the SEC wanted to know why the delay occurred. They also wanted to know why no one in the SEC has been fired or otherwise disciplined for failing to do their jobs.
SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami responded that the disciplinary process is "under way." As Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., put it, "That's 13 years. You haven't had enough chance to accumulate evidence?"
Precisely. The problem at the SEC is not lack of new laws or funds - but failure to insist officials at the agency do their jobs.