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After weathering the worst disaster in New York’s history with no apparent loss of life, two federal agencies whose regional offices were located in the World Trade Center are now facing a different kind of loss. Both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission housed their regional operations in 7 World Trade Center. The building is now gone, along with all of the offices’ records. “Clearly what happened was a severe blow,” Wayne Carlin, the SEC’s Northeast regional director, told The Washington Post. “It will slow us down, and we will need some amount of time to recover.” The office, which enforces SEC regulations, lost files on about 300 pending investigations, including a major inquiry into the manner in which investment banks divvied up hot shares of initial public offerings during the high-tech boom. Carlin said there were no plans to drop any pending matters. “We lost a lot of stuff, though some of it is reconstructible [sic],” he said. “Anybody who is under our investigation would be making a mistake if they thought they were in the clear.” The SEC will probably be able to get new copies of documents from the parties that turned them over initially, Carlin said. Barry Barbash, a partner with the New York and Washington, D.C., offices of Shearman & Sterling and former director of the division of investment management at the SEC, said that most of the securities firms have back-up systems. “It’s really the [SEC's] internally generated notes and correspondence that will prove most problematic,” Barbash said. He added that the agency’s ability to reconstruct an investigation will also depend on how far along it was. If the New York office was working with Washington, D.C., or other offices, those offices would probably have back up records, he noted. Barbash said that it was his recollection that the SEC did not have a systematic record retention policy where important documents were copied or saved on computer files. But he expressed confidence that the SEC would get through the crisis. “They care about what they do. They are not going to let the destruction of a building stand in the way of that,” he said. EEOC EEOC spokesman Reginald Welch said the office had yet to turn its attention to the loss of files. “Our priority right now is making sure that our staff is OK emotionally because of what they went through,” he said. Welch was unable to confirm the number of pending cases and investigations in the New York office, although employment lawyers estimated it to be in the “tens of thousands.” The EEOC issued a statement saying that all district office personnel had been safely evacuated and it was seeking alternative work sites for the agency’s New York employees. Ironically, EEOC Chairwoman Cari M. Dominguez was in the New York office on Monday to announce the filing of a major sex discrimination lawsuit against Morgan Stanley, whose main offices were also located in the World Trade Center.

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