WASHINGTON — Leaders of a congressional commission investigating the causes of the recent financial crisis are threatening to publicly identify any company or government agency that stalls in voluntarily producing requested documents.
Phil Angelides, the chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, told McClatchy Newspapers in an interview that the panel would investigate the role that Wall Street firms played in causing the crisis to mushroom.
McClatchy reported earlier this month that Goldman Sachs, the nation's premier investment bank, sold more than $40 billion in securities backed by risky mortgages in 2006 and 2007 while secretly betting on a housing market downturn that would depress the value of those securities.
After purchasing those bonds from Goldman, pension funds, insurance companies and other institutions are facing bigger losses from the financial meltdown.
Angelides, a Democrat and former California state treasurer, and California Republican Bill Thomas, the vice chairman, vowed that they wouldn't let the subjects of their inquiry "run out the clock on us."
The special commission is patterned after the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, which exhaustively investigated the causes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
While Congress gave the financial commission subpoena powers, legislators also required the panel to submit its report by December 2010. To issue a subpoena, a supermajority of at least seven commissioners is required on a panel of six Democrats and four Republicans.
Angelides stressed that he is treating Thomas like "a co-chairman" and the two said they are united in their efforts.
The panel has begun investigating, but has issued no subpoenas and is starting with voluntary requests for information, Angeles said.
"Our biggest concern, and we won't let people do it, is that there will be some people with trillions of dollars at stake that they want to protect," he said. "They'll try to run out the clock on us. Both Bill and I have watches with dates on them, and we understand that we have to move."
"You'd like to think that the threat of the use of the tools we have will get people to comply," Thomas said.
Both men promised to shame those who don't cooperate voluntarily.