Critical to be vigilant on TARP oversight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The watchdog for the $700 billion bank bailout program said on Thursday it will remain vigilant in protecting taxpayers especially now congressional supervisors have stopped oversight.

In its latest quarterly report, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) emphasized that the bailout program was not over.

Until early this year, the inspector general's office was one of two government groups charged with regularly scrutinizing TARP. The Congressional Oversight Panel was created by Congress to review the program but it shut it's doors in early April as mandated by the law.

Recent events, such as the last oversight report from congressional overseers and the continued repayment of bailout funds by larger banks, have underpinned public perception that TARP is ending.

"This is simply not the case. TARP may have entered a new phase, but it is far from over," said the report released on Thursday.

As of the end of March, about $146.8 billion in bailout fund