WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush on Friday picked a federal prosecutor in New York to be a Treasury-based special inspector general to oversee the massive $700 billion financial rescue plan.
If confirmed by Senate, Neil Barofsky, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, will be responsible for conducting audits and investigations of how the government spends the bailout money. He will also will report on the value of any assets acquired by the government and why they were purchased.
Currently, the job is being handled by the Treasury Department's inspector general — Eric Thorson — who has expressed concerns about the difficulty of properly overseeing the complex program in addition to his regular responsibilities.
Prior to his job as assistant U.S. attorney and chief of the Southern District's mortgage fraud group, Barofsky was a lead prosecutor in the district's securities fraud unit. Previously, he worked the district's international narcotics trafficking unit. Barofsky earned two bachelor's degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the New York University School of Law.
The establishment of a special inspector general dedicated to the program was one of the provisions added to the bailout legislation to secure its passage. Other provisions intended to boost oversight of the massive program included a special oversight board and regular government audits.