New York -- Under fire for its part in marketing aggressive tax shelters, Big Four firm KPMG named new leaders to head up its tax practice, following last month’s shakeup of that group’s top leadership.

KPMG named James Brasher, 50, vice chair of tax services, and John Chopack, 56, vice chair of tax services operations.

Both appointments became effective Feb. 1.

Brasher succeeds Richard Smith, who the firm said is taking on new responsibilities within its global tax operation. Chopack replaces William Hibbitt, who will return to a client service role.

Smith and Hibbitt were among the executives displaced in the shakeup announced Jan. 12, when KPMG, one of several firms facing scrutiny by regulators for its role in promoting abusive tax shelters, announced that deputy chairman and former vice chair of tax services Jeff Stein would retire at the end of this month.

In addition, Jeff Eischeid, partner-in-charge of the tax practice’s personal financial planning practice, relinquished that post and was put on administrative leave.

That top-level housecleaning followed a series of hearings late last year before the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which examined the Big Four firm’s selling of tax shelters.

Brasher, who joined the firm in 1975 and became a partner 10 years later, had served as the firm’s Midwest area managing partner for the federal tax practice in Chicago. He has been a member of KPMG’s board of directors since 1999 and chaired its nominating committee last year.

Prior to being named to his new post, Chopack, who became a partner in 1981, headed up the firm’s tax risk and reg­ulatory matters group in Phil­adelphia. Prior to that, he served as the mid-Atlantic area managing partner from 1998 to 2003.

“KPMG is dedicated to leading the effort to return credibility to our profession and restore investor confidence in the capital markets,” said chairman and chief executive Eugene D. O’Kelly in a statement.

Over the past two years, an Internal Revenue Service crackdown on tax shelter promoters has resulted in legal action against several firms, including Grant Thornton, KPMG, BDO Seidman and Ernst & Young.

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