(CNN) Congressional lawmakers questioned Federal Reserve Inspector General Mark Bialik on Wednesday about possible insider trading among Fed officials in 2020, accusing the country’s central bank of inaction.
Presidents of the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston and Dallas Take early retirement In 2021 after the deals they did before and during the pandemic came to light. Bialik said his investigation into any potential legal violations from the deals is “ongoing”.
A separate investigation by Bialik last year found no wrongdoing arising from deals made by a financial advisor on behalf of the family trusts of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and former Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida.
Bialik told members of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy that he was limited in what he could disclose because it would impede his ability to “conduct a thorough, independent investigation” into the dealings of former regional bank chiefs.
“It’s been a year and a half,” interrupted Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. “This is not strong censorship. In fact, it is not competent censorship.”
As the Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the subcommittee noted, Bialik, who has served in the position since 2011, is being appointed by members of the Fed’s board of governors, which is charged with the investigation. Bialik told lawmakers there was no conflict of interest and he was still able to conduct fair and independent investigations. Warren, among others, said she wasn’t convinced.
“It would sound to anyone in the audience that you gave your boss a free pass,” she said. “The Fed continues to obstruct Congress, and obstruct the public on key information about these trades. This is unacceptable.”
The inspector general’s office declined to comment Wednesday evening.
Renew pressure for an independently appointed Inspector General
After the Silicon Valley bank collapse in March, Warren and Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida introduced a bill requiring the Fed’s Board of Governors to appoint a Senate-appointed inspector general.
A separate Fed investigation faulted the SVB collapse, not including Bialik, as the Fed supervisors. Scott said Wednesday that he lacks confidence in Bialik’s ability to investigate Fed oversight loopholes.
“Someone at the Federal Reserve who was responsible for overseeing these banks clearly made a mistake,” he said on Wednesday, referring to bank collapses since 2008. “The average person in America is paying for all of this.”
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