* Lawyer: DOJ not probing David Becker on Madoff conflict
* Becker was target of internal watchdog probe
* Becker had inherited money from a Madoff fund
* SEC watchdog had referred matter to DOJ for review
By Sarah N. Lynch
Nov 8 The U.S. Department of Justice will not
investigate whether former top Securities and Exchange
Commission lawyer David Becker had a conflict of interest when
he participated in agency matters involving convicted swindler
Bernard Madoff, Becker's attorney said.
William Baker, representing Becker, told Reuters by
telephone that he received word last Thursday that the
department would not be opening a probe.
SEC Inspector General David Kotz accused Becker, the former
general counsel at the SEC, in a September report of having a
conflict of interest for getting involved in Madoff matters
even after he and his brothers inherited $2 million in Madoff
funds from their deceased mother's estate.
Kotz's report focused on Becker's role in crafting a method
that would benefit longer-term Madoff investors by adjusting
the payments to account for inflation. The SEC ultimately voted
in support of his recommendation, but the "constant dollar
method" was never put into practice.
Earlier this year, as Becker was preparing to leave the SEC
and return to private practice, Madoff Trustee Irving Picard
sued him and his brothers to claw back $1.5 million in alleged
Kotz's September report said he had referred the matter to
the Justice Department at the request of the Office of
Becker, now a partner at Cleary Gottlieb, has vigorously
defended himself against any allegations of wrongdoing, saying
he properly sought guidance from the SEC's ethics counsel on
two different occasions before participating in Madoff issues.
Both times he was cleared to participate.
With the Justice Department's decision, Baker said this now
puts an end to any more probes into the matter.
"We were gratified by the decision," Baker said.
Kotz was not immediately available for comment.