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SEC division chief Lori Richards to resign

The head of the regulator's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations since its creation in 1995 was sharply criticized by Congress over the Bernard Madoff scandal.

July 09, 2009|Tom Petruno

The Bernard Madoff scandal may have helped claim another head at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lori Richards, the 49-year-old chief of the SEC division that inspects money managers, said Wednesday that she would resign.

Richards, a 24-year veteran of the SEC who worked in enforcement in the agency's Los Angeles office in the early 1990s, has headed the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations since it was created in 1995.

She told Bloomberg News that it was "completely my decision" to step down.

"I've been thinking about doing something different for some time," she said, without revealing her plans.

Congress skewered Richards, former Enforcement Director Linda Thomsen and other SEC officials for failing to uncover Madoff's huge Ponzi scheme before it collapsed in December. Thomsen resigned in February.

Richards' defense was that the SEC had about 400 staff members to inspect more than 11,000 money managers.

She told Congress in January that the agency had to "assign examination staff to those advisors and funds that appear to present the greatest potential for having an adverse impact on investors."

Richards said the process was "a form of triage, to help match available staff resources to the most pressing risks."

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tom.petruno@latimes.com

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