Levitt told the press that he had met with US vice president-elect Dick Cheney to tell him of his plans.
President-elect George W Bush will elect a new chairman, subject to approval from the US Senate. John Labate of New York is expected to be elected acting chairman upon Levitt’s departure.
Levitt, 69, was the longest-serving chairman in the history of the SEC having been appointed by President Clinton in July 1993 and re-appointed for a second term in 1998. His term was due to end in 2003.
He has been at the forefront of accounting news this year, following his crusade for a new set of regulations ensuring auditor independence in order to safeguard investor confidence in financial reporting. Levitt first began his fight against accounting abuses in November 1998.
In November this year, the SEC voted to pass rules substantially limiting the amount of consultancy work, particularly IT consultancy, large accountancy firms can offer their audit clients.
But the final version of the rules was widely seen as half-baked following weeks of discussions with Big Five firms in search of a compromise.
Speaking to the Commission’s staff after the announcement was made, Levitt said: ‘I’ve had my dream job. I have been able to work on issues I have been deeply passionate about since I first began my career.’
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