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Pitt Defends His Tenure at the SEC

November 09, 2002|From Bloomberg News

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt, who submitted his resignation Tuesday, defended his 15-month tenure and said a "climate of attack and partisanship" undercut his work.

"In a partisan environment, criticism often devolves into attack," Pitt said Friday in a speech to the Securities Industry Assn., the trade group for Wall Street investment firms. "It's not just unproductive. It's counterproductive."

Pitt listed his accomplishments, including a rule that executives certify financial statements, reopening markets after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and charging WorldCom Inc. with fraud 24 hours after it restated earnings. He didn't mention his handling of William Webster's appointment to lead a new accounting board, which led to his resignation.

Pitt's speech was his first public address since tendering his resignation. Pitt remains chairman until a successor is announced by President Bush.

Pitt's speech was greeted by a 20-second standing ovation from 300 brokers attending the meeting. Reporters were unable to ask follow-up questions as Pitt was escorted out of the building by four security guards.

The SEC chairman, who was appointed by Bush last year and won unanimous Senate confirmation, came under criticism for his past ties to the accounting industry and a series of missteps, including meetings with executives of KPMG and other companies under SEC investigation.

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