Rattner close to settling with SEC

Steven Rattner, formerly of private equity firm Quadrangle and the former head of the U.S. auto task force, is close to settling with the SEC over an investigation into a state pension pay-to-play scheme, according to Reuters. Rattner will most likely have to pay $6 million and take a two-year ban from the securities industry. His former firm, Quadrangle, has already paid $7 million to New York and $5 million to resolve the SEC investigation.

(Reuters) – Steven Rattner, the former head of the U.S. auto task force, is near to settling with the Securities and Exchange Commission over questions on whether he took part in a state pension pay-to-play scheme, a source familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

It is likely that Rattner will pay around $6 million and have a two year securities industry ban, the source said, confirming an earlier report in the Wall Street Journal.

Rattner, who is promoting his book “Overhaul,” left private equity firm Quadrangle in 2009 to run U.S. President Barack Obama’s auto bailout task force. He departed from that post a few months later to return to private life.

Only weeks after taking the autos post, Rattner and Quadrangle were linked to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s probe into a state pension pay-to-play scheme.

Quadrangle in April settled its part of the probe and said in a statement released at the time that, “we wholly disavow the conduct engaged in by Steve Rattner”. Quadrangle paid $7 million to New York, and another $5 million to resolve the SEC probe.

Both CNBC and the New York Times earlier reported that a settlement between Rattner and the federal regulator could be announced as early as Thursday.

The SEC and the Office of the New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, whose corruption investigation of the state’s pension fund has produced seven guilty pleas, most recently from former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, declined comment.

Rattner, who left the auto task force as Cuomo’s probe intensified, nor his lawyer were immediately available for comment.

The attorney general’s probe of Rattner is ongoing, a source familiar with the matter said.

Cuomo, New York’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, says the state’s pension fund became a piggyback under Hevesi.

New York’s comptrollers are the sole trustees of the $132 billion fund and Hevesi took luxury trips he did not pay for, while brokers reaped millions of dollars in fees by exploiting their ties to him to win business for investment companies.

On Oct. 7, Hevesi pleaded guilty to a felony corruption charge and agreed to cooperate in Cuomo’s probe.

Still to stand trial is Henry Morris, Hevesi’s former top political advisor, on felonies including money laundering, bribery and violating the state securities law. Morris’ lawyer, who was not immediately available, has said his client did nothing wrong.

Rattner has been a major Democratic fund-raiser, but his ties to New York’s Republican candidate for comptroller have been repeatedly criticized by the Democratic candidate and current comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli.

The Republican, Harry Wilson, worked with Rattner on the auto task force, helping to persuade unionized workers to accept cutbacks.
(Reporting by Megan Davies and Joan Gralla in New York, Rachelle Younglai in Washington, D.C.; editing by Andrew Hay and Andre Grenon)