SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins told CNBC's Melissa Lee that the federal regulatory agency should focus on mutual funds and insider trading--not hedge funds.
In a taped interview aired on "Squawk Box," Atkins called efforts to regulate hedge funds “not the wisest effort” A Congressional hearing on the issue is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Washington.
Atkins said individuals investing for retirement or other personal needs typically invest in mutual funds while hedge funds are intended for institutional investors. Deep-pocket institutional investors have the money to hire top-notch advisors, Atkins said, while most mutual fund investors do not.
He said it’s a “canard” to say individuals are exposed to hedge funds through institutional retirement accounts because such funds are typically large and professionally managed.
He said the SEC now has its priorities straight and is working with the exchanges to monitor insider trading.
President Bush appointed Atkins to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2002. His term expires in 2008.