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TARP Watchdog Growls at Treasury over Lack of Transparency

Where has the TARP money gone? If you check out our bailout database, you'll be able to see which companies have received funds.

But if you want to know what they've been doing with the money, it gets tougher. Actually, until Monday, you would have been out of luck. The Treasury Department doesn't require that companies report their use of the money, so the special inspector general for the TARP (SIGTARP), Neil Barofsky, surveyed every company earlier this year. His office's report, released Monday, provided an overview that wasn't available before.

In the SIGTARP's quarterly review of the $700 billion bailout, released today (PDF), he says this lack of "basic transparency" has become a pattern: "TARP has become a program in which taxpayers (i) are not being told what most of the TARP recipients are doing with their money, (ii) have still not been told how much their substantial investments are worth, and (iii) will not be told the full details of how their money is being invested."

In addition to regularly questioning recipients of TARP money about how they're using it (which Treasury has refused to do), the SIGTARP wants the department to produce regular reports showing how much the assets it has bought with the bailout funds are worth. The Treasury is only required to make such a disclosure annually, even though it gets monthly reports from its asset managers.

The SIGTARP also urges the department to provide more transparency in its $30 billion toxic asset purchase program, where taxpayer dollars will be invested alongside private investors'. The Treasury won't disclose how these funds are invested, prompting the SIGTARP to declare in today's report that he'll do it himself.

Other links this morning:
TARP Watchdog Cites Lack of Transparency in Obama Administration (LAT)
Dodd Looks to Distance Himself From Financial Firms (WaPo)
Big Estimate, Worth Little, on Bailout (NYT)
CIT to Get Financing From Bondholders (NYT)
Parties Haggle over TARP Fund Returns (Politico)
At N.Y. Fed, Blending In Is Part of the Job (WaPo)


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