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JOHN D. DINGELL, Michigan, Chairman JAMES H. SCHEUER, New York
JAMES T. BROYHILL, North Carolina HENRY A. WAXMAN, California
NORMAN F. LENT, New York TIMOTHY E. WIRTH, Colorado
EDWARD R. MADIGAN, Illinois PHILIP R. SHARP, Indiana
CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California JAMES J. FLORIO, New Jersey
MATTHEW J. RINALDO, New Jersey EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts WILLIAM E. DANNEMEYER, California THOMAS A. LUKEN, Ohio
BOB WHITTAKER, Kansas DOUG WALGREN, Pennsylvania
THOMAS J. TAUKE, Iowa BARBARA A. MIKULSKI, Maryland
DON RITTER, Pennsylvania AL SWIFT, Washington
DAN COATS, Indiana MICKEY LELAND, Texas
THOMAS J. BLILEY, JR., Virginia RICHARD C. SHELBY, Alabama
JACK FIELDS, Texas CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois
MICHAEL G. OXLEY, Ohio MIKE SYNAR, Oklahoma
HOWARD C. NIELSON, Utah W.J. "BILLY” TAUZIN, Louisiana
MICHAEL BILIRAKIS, Florida RON WYDEN, Oregon
DAN SCHAEFER, Colorado
FRED J. ECKERT, New York
WM. MICHAEL KITZMILLER, Staff Director
THOMAS M. RYAN, Chief Counsel
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS
JOHN D. DINGELL, Michigan, Chairman RON WYDEN, Oregon
JAMES T. BROYHILL, North Carolina DENNIS E. ECKART, Ohio
BOB WHITTAKER, Kansas JIM SLATTERY, Kansas
THOMAS J. BLILEY, JR., Virginia GERRY SIKORSKI, Minnesota
MICHAEL G. OXLEY, Ohio JAMES H. SCHEUER, New York
MICHAEL BILIRAKIS, Florida JAMES J. FLORIO, New Jersey
DAN SCHAEFER, Colorado
FRED J. ECKERT, New York
MICHAEL F. BARRETT, Jr., Chief Counsel/Staff Director
John B. CHESSON, Counsel
ROBERT C. NORWOOD, Counsel
Hodges, Howard P., Jr., Chief Accountant, Division of Corporation Fi-
Leisenring, James J., Director, Research and Technical Activities, Finan-
Material submitted for the record by:
Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee: Excerpt from report by the
Comptroller General to Congress, dated July 16, 1985.
to Chairman Dingell, May 23, 1986....
SEC AND CORPORATE AUDITS
THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 1986
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:15 a.m.,
in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Richard C. Shelby presiding (Hon. John D. Dingell, chairman).
Mr. SHELBY. The subcommittee will come to order. If all of you who are standing will come in and have a seat, we will get moving as fast as we can. I will proceed to present Chairman Dingell's opening statement.
Today the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations begins a series of three hearings which will explore the relationship between the Federal securities laws and the actions of the various Federal banking agencies.
More than 50 years ago, Congress approved a system which depends upon the vigilance of Federal agencies and private independent audit firms to implement the provisions of the securities laws.
The Committee on Energy and Commerce is responsible for assuring that the securities laws—which are based on the concept of open and fair disclosure of important information to the publicare faithfully administered and enforced.
Last year this subcommittee held several hearings regarding the administration and enforcement of the securities laws by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board for the savings and loan institutions that it regulates. We found many instances of severe problems with the efforts of the Bank Board and independent audit firms in this area. These problems ranged from misleading accounting gimmicks to actual participation by the Bank Board itself in permitting the stock of a major institution listed on the New York Stock Exchange to be manipulated.
The subcommittee is particularly concerned about two fundamental problems we found during the course of our hearings. The first is that the Federal Home Loan Bank Board has an institutional bias toward secrecy in promoting the institutions it regulates and protecting the reserves of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation. The Agency's preference for secrecy directly conflicts with its statutory responsibilities to see that problems at thrift institutions are openly and fairly disclosed as required by the Federal securities laws.
The second problem concerns the Bank Board's willingness to use and endorse financial reporting rules which deviate significant
ly from the generally accepted accounting principles used in other industries. The purpose of these unorthodox rules-called regulatory accounting principles-has been to inflate the reported net worth of savings and loan institutions so that the industry would appear healthier than it really is. This charade may make the regulators at the Bank Board feel more comfortable, but it has not aided the process of recognizing the real extent of problems in order to deal with them effectively.
We will examine some of the regulatory accounting principles used to inflate the net worth of thrift institutions, as well as the impact of those rules on the Federal deposit insurance system. The subcommittee's inquiry is timely because we are now seeing strong attempts to have some of the rules used by the Bank Board to fool itself accepted as part of the generally accepted accounting principles used to report financial information to the public.
Furthermore, we are seeing new efforts by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Reserve Board to use accounting rules as part of their efforts to address the problems of banks with significant loan exposure in the agricultural and energy industries. These Federal agencies also have a statutory responsibility to assure complete and accurate disclosure of bank problems under the securities laws. We do not want these agencies to follow the same path of misleading accounting principles which have caused so many problems in the savings and loan industry.
Finally, I want to make the record clear that the Committee on Energy and Commerce is serious about preserving and improving the integrity of the system used to report financial information to the public. The word should go out that this committee will not tolerate attempts by any Government Agency, private accounting firm, rule-setting body, corporate management, or other person to subvert the integrity of the system. We will continue to develop our factual record of current and potential problems in the system, but let everyone understand that the committee will vigorously exercise all powers which are necessary or appropriate to meet its goals in this regard.
This concludes Mr. Dingell's prepared statement.
We have Mr. Wolf on the first panel. And then we will have Mr. Stearns and Mr. Isaac, who are not here yet.
It is the custom of the subcommittee to receive all testimony under oath. Do you have any objections to being sworn?
Mr. WOLF. No, sir.
Mr. SHELBY. You also have the right to counsel, to have counsel present with you, as you probably know. Do you desire counsel to be present?
Mr. WOLF. No, sir.
Mr. SHELBY. Let the record show that the rules of the committee and the rules of the House are available at the witness table before you for your reference. If you have no objection, if you would please stand, I will swear you.
Mr. SHELBY. Identify yourself and anyone seated at the witness table.