While waiting for that Rattner settlement...October 15, 2010: 10:39 AM ET
The SEC yesterday delayed its proposed settlement with Steve Rattner, related to the former car czar's (alleged) participation in a private equity pay-to-play scheme. Reports have suggested that the deal, when finalized, will include $6 million in restitution and a multi-year ban from the securities industry.
Word is that if the SEC had its druthers, it would settle simultaneous to a Rattner deal with the NY Attorney General's Office. Seems that latter one is taking a bit longer to work out. Maybe thats because Andrew Cuomo once gave Rattner immunity. Or perhaps because Cuomo wants way more than $6 million. Or because Cuomo wants Rattner to issue a public statement of contrition.
So while we wait, two notes:
1. Andrew Cuomo may be in a political no-win if he settles before next month's election. If he lets Rattner off with just a financial penalty - even if it approaches the $20 million paid by Riverstone's David Leuschen (and I hear it could) - then Cuomo will be accused of letting rich folks buy their way out of jail. Moreover, there could be some embarrassing details released about how quickly Cuomo was willing to give Rattner immunity.
If he doesn't settle before the election - and the SEC does - then he could be accused of letting a major Democratic donor off the hook.
2. Mike Bloomberg is in full "see no evil, hear no evil" mode. A reporter yesterday asked: If Rattner settles with the SEC and agrees to a ban from the securities industry, will you keep him on as your money manager?
The Mayor's reply: "Steve Rattner's my friend, of course I'd keep him on. Why would you not? If he can do anything to help, I value his advice and he's a close friend of mine, and you stick by your friends. I don't know what he's going to do, but we'll see."
It's one thing to be a loyal friend, but Bloomberg is showing major chutzpah as an elected official. His friend, in this case, may tacitly accept blame in a pay-to-play scheme that involved both the state pension fund and the New York City pension fund. If so, how can the mayor of New York City continue to pretend as if nothing's wrong?