An attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission is alleging that the agency destroyed documents related to thousands of preliminary investigations, including on Bernard Madoff and major financial firms.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, on Wednesday asked SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro in a letter about the attorney's allegations. He asked whether it's the agency's policy to destroy documents on preliminary inquiries in cases that are closed when the staff decides a formal investigation isn't warranted.
The records destruction may have hurt the SEC's ability to pursue cases, Grassley said.
Agency spokesman John Nester said "Not every document obtained by an agency in the course of its work must be retained."
The SEC has been criticized for its handling of investigations of the convicted swindler Madoff and other cases.