Pitt: Search begins for replacement

Link: SEC chief Harvey Pitt resigns

If he does he will have to pick someone with a good understanding of the issues surrounding corporate governance and accounting.

Of the four remaining there is one economist and three lawyers, but no accountants.

Only Cynthia Glassman, made commissioner in January this year, has worked for an accountancy firm after spending five years with Ernst & Young in its risk management practice and the firms quantative economics and statics group.

A PHD in economics she also taught at the University of Cambridge to which she retains close links, remaining a senior member of Lucy Cavendish College. An ability to get on well with key UK figures could well benefit her if she were to deal with the thorny subject of British companies coming to terms with the recent Sarbanes-Oxley Act on corporate governance. She would also have to handle UK ministers struggling to win important concessions from the legislation.

Of the three lawyers Harvey Goldschmid is probably the most senior as a result of being professor of law at the Columbia University School of Law.

An expert on corporate law, he is however, only on leave from the university where he is held in high esteem.

The commissioner with the strongest regulatory background is Paul Atkins who has served under two previous chairman as well as Harvey Pitt.

A career regulator he worked on improving corporate governance in the early 90s under former SEC chairman Richard Breeden. He also worked with Arthur Levitt on consumer issues.

Atkins has good business experience after working for a spell as a ‘crisis president’ in a major bankruptcy.

A committed regulator Atkins could be a good short term bet for president Bush.

The last of the commissioners Roel Campos has been with the SEC since August this year but as a career lawyer seems more at home prosecuting drug runners. However, he has prosecuted fraudsters, experience that may have given him a nose for rooting out corruption, a task the SEC may well have to come to grips with even more firmly in the near future.

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