William J. McDonough, the original chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board after the PCAOB was created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and a former president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, died Monday.

McDonough passed away at his home in Waccabuc, N.Y., at the age of 83. He started his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in January 1992 as head of markets and became the eighth president of the New York Fed in 1993. He served through June 2003, and led the bank through a number of major challenges, including a private sector rescue of the failing hedge fund Long Term Capital Management, a Y2K transition at the bank, and then the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

William McDonough, chairman and CEO of the Public Accounting Oversight Board, speaks during the America's Community Bankers' 2004 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
PCAOB chairman William McDonough at the America's Community Bankers' 2004 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg News

After Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in the wake of accounting scandals like Enron and WorldCom, McDonough left the New York Fed to serve as the first chairman of the PCAOB from June 2003 to November 2005.

The PCAOB issued a statement memorializing him. “We mourn the loss of William J. McDonough, the first Chairman of the PCAOB, which was established by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to restore investor confidence in public accounting of American corporations. Appointed by the SEC in April 2003, Bill McDonough stepped in as the first chairman of a start-up regulatory organization in the immediate aftermath of the Enron and WorldCom crises. He was a strong leader whose intellect, stature and unwavering commitment to principle helped establish the credibility of the organization, both domestically and internationally. Under his leadership, the board established its regulatory approach and programs and forged the international relationships that have led to PCAOB inspections in 50 countries today and helped spread independent audit oversight around the globe. His strong belief in investor protection and public service is still with us today as we carry out the mission of the PCAOB.”

Before joining the New York Fed, McDonough worked at First Chicago Corp. and its bank, First National Bank of Chicago, for 22 years, serving as vice chairman from 1986 to 1989. Prior to that, he worked at the U.S. State Department from 1961 to 1967 and was a U.S. Navy officer from 1956 to 1961.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.