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Sen. Baucus Blasts Blackstone

It is official; the private equity industry is under regulatory scrutiny in a way it has never witnessed before. The US Congress's inquiry into whether to raise taxes on hedge funds, venture capitalists and private-equity firms began in earnest yesterday. The Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, said he wants to find out “whether some people who are earning great wealth are also avoiding their full and proper share of the burden of taxation.” He referred to the Blackstone Group and said there is “a good argument that the fund managers who are becoming publicly traded partnerships are stretching the law.” The US congress isn't the only lawmaker investigating private equity at the moment. Last night the European Parliaments Financial Services Forum began interviewing witnesses too. In an assertive speech, EVCA Secretary General, Javier Echarri, strongly defended the role and wider function of Private Equity. “Those who demonize private equity should consider the unintended consequences towards Europe's growth companies before attacking an industry that has a much better track record than most in making companies competitive, increasing productivity and facilitating employment growth,” Echarri told Members of the European Parliament and financial services industry representatives in Strasbourg. The UK's lower house of parliament, the House of Commons, has delayed its report on private equity until October as the Treasury Select Committee wants to hold more hearings. The report was originally expected to be published this month.