Washington (Nov. 15, 2002) -- In an apparent effort to stave off further criticism, the Bush administration has approached Andersen prosecutor Michael Chertoff to determine his interest in replacing Harvey Pitt as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Chertoff, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division and one of Accounting Today’s Top 100 People for 2002, played an integral role in bringing a felony indictment against Andersen for its activities surrounding the Enron investigation. The firm was convicted of obstruction of justice.

Some say Chertoff would be a smart choice, leaving critics no ammunition to charge that the new SEC head won’t get tough with violators. But others worry that his role in the Andersen case and his law enforcement background will make the SEC appear too prosecutorial.

The White House said no announcement on Pitt’s replacement is imminent. Other possible contenders for the SEC post are Robert Glauber, chairman of the National Association of Securities Dealers, and Mary Schapiro, NASD vice chairman.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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