Lawyer favourite to take reins at SEC

Harvey Pitt, a securities lawyer at legal firm Fried Frank Harris, served as general counsel at the SEC in the 1970s and is the frontrunner to succeed Arthur Levitt, the longest-serving SEC chairman, who resigned in February this year.

Other candidates likely to be considered by the Bush administration include Peter Wallision, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Dana Mead, former chairman of Tenneco and Business Round-Table, while former SEC general counsel James Doty is considered an outside chance.

Doty, a partner at legal firm Baker Botts in Washington, was originally seen as a favourite for the post, given his Texas roots and his past business dealings with president Bush.

Laura Unger has been acting chairman of the SEC since 12 February 2001. She served as a commissioner of the SEC since 1997 and is best known for championing the role of technology in the financial markets.

A number of candidates have already declined the post vacated by Levitt. The post requires that the candidate sever all financial ties with investment banks and brokers. Its $131,7000 (Pounds 92,700) annual salary is considered low by Wall Street standards.

Levitt was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993, and re-elected in 1998. In 2000, he led the crusade for a new set of regulations ensuring auditor independence to safeguard investor confidence in financial reporting.


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