A former top enforcement official in the Securities and Exchange Commission's Texas office has been barred from appearing before the agency for one year for violating conflict-of-interest rules.
The SEC said on Thursday that former Fort Worth enforcement director Spencer Barasch worked for the Stanford Group Co, the company led by convicted Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford, despite federal ethics rules that banned him from doing so.
In January, Barasch agreed to pay a $50,000 (31,900 pounds) civil fine to settle related claims from the Justice Department.
At that time, Barasch had also hoped to settle the SEC action by agreeing to a six-month bar, but SEC commissioners unanimously rejected the offer amid concerns that it was too lenient, people familiar with the matter then said.
Texas financier Allen Stanford was convicted in March of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. He was found guilty on 13 of 14 criminal counts, including fraud, conspiracy, and obstructing an SEC investigation.
Barasch agreed to the SEC's one-year bar without admitting or denying the allegations that he violated federal conflict of interest rules.
While at the SEC's Fort Worth office, the SEC said, Barasch "personally and substantially" took part in decisions involving allegations of securities law violations by entities associated with Robert Allen Stanford, including Stanford Group Co.
When he moved to private practice in 2005, he asked the SEC's ethics office whether he could represent Stanford, and was told no, the SEC said.
But in the fall of 2006, he accepted an engagement from Stanford and billed for 12 hours of legal work related to the matters Barasch had participated in while at the Commission, the agency said.
"This action shows that the commission takes seriously ethical lapses by attorneys who appear and practice before it, and that such violations will result in serious disciplinary action," SEC Associate General Counsel Richard Humes said in a statement.
Paul Coggins, an attorney for Barasch, said that his client has "served the SEC and his country with integrity and distinction" and "carried the same high standards of ethics and achievement into private practice."
"In order to avoid the expense and uncertainty of protected litigation, Spence and the government have entered into a settlement that fully and finally resolved this matter," Coggins said.
A spokeswoman for Barasch's current law firm, Andrews Kurth, referred all questions to Barasch's attorney.
(Reporting By Aruna Viswanatha and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Gary Hill)