“It sounds a lot like my dog ate my homework,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.
The Federal Reserve, which regulates banks, last month partly blamed itself for ignoring warning signs at SVB. Its strongest criticism, however, was aimed at the bank’s leaders, including Mr. Becker, who it said took untenable financial risks to keep the lender growing quickly.
At a separate hearing Tuesday, Michael Barr, the Fed’s vice chair for supervision, said that when SVB executives found a problem with their liquidity stress testing, they changed the test to make it less conservative, calling that “the opposite of what you’d want a bank to do” when it was facing risk.
Many of the questions faced by Mr. Becker Tuesday involved his pay, which rose as the bank grew. He earned nearly $10 million in 2022 and cashed out millions in stock options in the weeks before the lender’s collapse. He testified that those sales were preplanned and that he wasn’t acting on any nonpublic information.
“From the standpoint of compensation, that is determined by the board of directors. I know they believed it was fair, and I believe they were accurate,” he said.
When senators from both parties asked if he would give back any of his bonuses, Mr. Becker repeatedly said he was waiting to see if regulators would force him to.
“Let’s say it was legal,” asked Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio. “Was it ethical?”
Mr. Becker declined to answer.
Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.