Washington (Feb. 19, 2003) -- Former Wall Street executive William Donaldson was sworn in Tuesday as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, ending the troubled tenure of Harvey Pitt.

Donaldson was confirmed by the Senate last week, and has said his first priority will be to appoint a leader for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Pitt’s bungling of that appointment helped lead to his resignation.

Donaldson, former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and founder of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, was sworn in at a brief White House ceremony Tuesday morning.

The new SEC chair will be watched closely by Congress and the public to make sure he doesn’t repeat any of Pitt’s blunders.

From the start, Pitt announced to the American Institute of CPAs that he was ushering in a "kinder, gentler" SEC that would go easier on the profession than his predecessors. Then came Enron, Andersen’s downfall and WorldCom. Pitt also came under fire for meeting with top officials at firms under investigation by his office, and for allegedly scuttling the nomination of tough reformer John Biggs to head the new accounting oversight board mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley act.

The final straw came when it was revealed that Pitt’s choice to head the board, former FBI and CIA chief William Webster, chaired the audit committee of a company being probed for accounting irregularities.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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