SEC Update: Mary Schapiro Steps Down, Elisse Walter New Chairwoman

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will have a new chairwoman beginning on Dec. 14. On that date, Mary Schapiro, the current chairwoman and Obama administration appointee, will step down. Schapiro took over the SEC after the agency failed to identify the Madoff Ponzi scheme.

The SEC under Schapiro was remarkably different from what came before, although some critics believed that Schapiro let big banks like Goldman Sachs off the hook following the financial crisis. In 2010, Goldman settled a civil fraud suit with the SEC for $550 million. The SEC charged Goldman with misleading investors about mortgage securities. Goldman in particular never admitted guilt over the financial crisis.

In recent months, the SEC has been criticized for slow moving regulation. The frustration over the lack of progress on Dodd-Frank financial reform culminated in a recent argument, from both left and right, that the SEC and CFTC should merge. During her tenure, Schapiro routinely battled with limited resources, although she is known for making the SEC more efficient and calling for extended funding for the agency.

“It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to work with so many dedicated SEC staff who strive every day to protect investors and ensure our markets operate with integrity. Over the past four years we have brought a record number of enforcement actions, engaged in one of the busiest rulemaking periods, and gained greater authority from Congress to better fulfill our mission,” Schapiro said in a statement released by SEC.

Obama on Schapiro’s Departure

President Obama issued a statement today about Schapiro’s departure:

“When Mary agreed to serve nearly four years ago, she was fully aware of the difficulties facing the SEC and our economy as a whole. But she accepted the challenge, and today, the SEC is stronger and our financial system is safer and better able to serve the American people — thanks in large part to Mary’s hard work,” said President Obama.

Elise Walter to Lead the SEC

Current commissioner Elisse Walter will step in as chairwoman. She was appointed to the agency by George W. Bush. Previously, she worked for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an industry self-regulator.

 Read more.


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