Several senior regulators with the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission have been accused of spending hours surfing online pornographic Web sites on government issued computers while they were supposed to be monitoring the nation's financial system.
SEC inspector general David Kotz conducted investigations of 33 employees caught looking at explicit images over the past five years.
The investigation, which was conducted at the request of Iowa Republican senator Charles Grassley, found that one senior attorney at the SEC spent eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography.
In another instance, an accountant obtained a large collection of images on his computer's hard drive.
The SEC says each of the offending employees has been disciplined and some have been suspended or dismissed.
The memo says 17 of the alleged offenders were senior SEC officers who earned salaries of up to $222,000 a year.
California Republican Representative Darrell Issa said it was disturbing that SEC officials spent more time watching pornography than taking action to try to stop the events that brought the nation's economy to the brink of collapse.
Details of the investigation surfaced less than a day after US President Barack Obama called for a reform of the financial system. Earlier this week the SEC said it would sue the U.S.-based investment bank Goldman Sachs for allegedly misleading investors.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.