Barry Goldsmith, the enforcement chief of brokerage regulator NASD, will step down in March to return to private law practice, and his deputy was named as his acting replacement.

Goldsmith, 56, will become a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, a firm known for its securities practice.

Goldsmith joined NASD, then known as the National Association of Securities Dealers, a decade ago. As enforcement chief, he led investigations into initial public stock offerings by big securities dealers and conflicts of interest involving research analysts, as well as mutual fund and hedge fund misconduct -- including overseeing penalties against Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo.

According to NASD, the number of new enforcement actions under Goldsmith reached record levels, from 975 in 1995, to 1,399 in 2005. Fines collected rose to $127.5 million in 2005, from $5.3 million in 1995.

James Shorris, NASD deputy enforcement chief, was named acting enforcement chief.

Goldsmith's departure is the second high-profile personnel change in a week. Mary Schapiro, president of NASD Regulation Inc. since 1996, has been named the successor of Robert Glauber as the regulator's chairman and chief executive. She will take over the post at the close of this year.

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