Steven Rattner was an executive at the Quadrangle Group, a private equity firm, until he left this year to lead President Obama's efforts to fix the U.S. auto industry.
The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that Mr. Rattner met with two now-indicted men to try to win state pension fund business.
Quadrangle, while under Mr. Rattner's watch, paid huge fees to Hank Morris, a political aide to former comptroller Alan Hevesi, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in court papers filed Wednesday.
Mr. Morris and the retirement fund's former chief investment officer, David Loglisci, were indicted in March on corruption and bribery charges. New York's attorney general and the SEC have said the payments Mr. Morris collected were kickbacks.
Mr. Rattner has not been charged with any wrongdoing. A spokesman for Quadrangle declined to comment.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Mr. Rattner is not likely to face criminal or civil charges, and that Mr. Rattner informed them of the investigation.