The board of KPMG LLP elected Timothy P. Flynn as chairman and chief executive, succeeding Eugene O'Kelly, who will step down to deal with a recent diagnosis of advanced-stage cancer.

The firm also named John B. Veihmeyer as deputy chair and chief operating officer. Both elections were duly ratified by the partnership in a vote that was completed by June 14. The two will serve until 2011.

Consistent with the firm's governance, KPMG said that deputy chair Joseph Mauriello would also relinquish his post.

"This was unquestionably one of the most difficult career decisions of my life, but I knew that I was compelled to make a choice that was fair both to my family and the firm," O'Kelly told KPMG's 1,600 partners in a message. "I've concluded that I could not devote ample time to the demands of the firm while I was dealing with ... my recovery process."

O'Kelly said that he plans to remain a partner with the firm.

O'Kelly is credited with bringing reforms aimed at restoring KPMG's professional credibility, such as separating risk management and quality oversight from the firm's business management activity.

In January, O'Kelly brought on board U.S. District Judge Sven Erik Holmes in the new position of vice chair of legal affairs. Flynn said that one of his first actions as CEO will be to elevate Judge Holmes' role to report directly to him.

A 26-year veteran of KPMG, Flynn, 48, was elected to partnership in 1988. He previously served as vice chair of audit and risk advisory services. Prior to that, he was vice chair of human resources.

Veihmeyer, 49, was formerly the managing partner of the firm's Washington office and mid-Atlantic area managing partner for audit and risk advisory services.

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