Pitt: Resignation ‘the right thing to do’

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Although he recognised Pitt was doing a ‘very good’ job and that he was sorry to see him go, Wyman said the intense political pressure the SEC and Pitt was under meant the authority of the regulator could be undermined.

Wyman said the acrimony that broke around Pitt’s appointment of a chief for the new US accountancy watchdog was the critical issue.

‘The difficulties Pitt got into with the appointment of Judge Webster [to chairman of the PCAOB] was the straw that broke the camels back,’ said Wyman.

But he argued the issue should never have become so political and that ‘every time he made a decision over a new thing it would have been constantly argued over, in a political way.’

Looking to the future, Wyman said it is important the SEC appoints a successor who thinks beyond the boundaries of the US.

‘It is important to get somebody who is an internationalist,’ he said. ‘It is particularly important in the context of Sarbanes-Oxley because we do need to negotiate with both the SEC and the PCAOB to get to a point where we get exemption for the UK profession.

‘What would be very damaging is somebody that just sits in Washington and says, “I regard the rest of the world as if it is identical to the United States and you all have to change your laws and regulations and practices to comply,”‘ said Wyman.

Meanwhile, Charles Tilley, chief executive of CIMA, said that regardless of Pitt’s abilities, the political pressure and media coverage had made his position untenable.

‘The involvement of the SEC in the successful running of the capital markets is crucial,’ said Tilley. ‘It is vital that his successor is able, and clearly seen to be able to move forward in an impartial and effective manner.’

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