Schapiro stepping down at SEC, Walter to step in

From Reuters
By Aruna Viswanatha
November 26, 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro, will step down next month after a tumultuous four years spent rehabilitating the agency’s battered reputation, handing the reins at least temporarily to a close ally.

“We’ve gotten a lot done, I’m really proud of where the agency is today, so it seemed like a good time,” Schapiro said in an interview on Monday after announcing her departure.

SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter, a career regulator who has sided with Schapiro on most of the critical issues before the agency, will serve as chairman-designate, the White House said.

Walter, whose SEC term has already expired, could serve until December of next year, buying time for President Barack Obama to win Senate approval for a long-term replacement. Obama plans to nominate someone soon, a White House official said.

Walter is among the candidates likely to be considered, as is Treasury official Mary Miller.

Schapiro’s departure leaves the commission split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans, which could make it harder for the commission to come to agreement.

Whoever takes the reins will need to finish Schapiro’s task of resurrecting the agency’s reputation, which was badly tarnished by the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

When Schapiro took over in 2009, the agency was under heavy fire for regulatory blindspots that critics said helped fuel the crisis. It was also lambasted for failing to catch now-convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, whose fraud cost investors an estimated $65 billion.

In addition to shoring up the agency’s name, Schapiro had to fight numerous other fires — from the 2010 “flash crash” that sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling 700 points within minutes to high-profile court losses.

“Chairman Schapiro was dealt a very difficult hand,” said Boston University law professor Cornelius Hurley…

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