Securities and Exchange Commissioner Paul Atkins said he plans to leave the SEC at the end of his term, the latest in a string of departures for the commission.

Atkins (pictured) has been in office for six years and has emphasized investor education and increased enforcement efforts. He was instrumental in the creation of the SEC's Microcap Fraud Working Group and advocated repeal of Auditing Standard No. 2, which has since been replaced by Auditing Standard No. 5.

Atkins is the third commissioner to resign from the SEC in the past year, following the departures of Roel Campos and Annette Nazareth. The SEC is currently operating with only three of five commissioners.

President Bush has nominated two replacements for Campos and Nazareth, Luis Aguilar and Elisse Walter, but the Senate Banking Committee has not yet held hearings to confirm them. Bush has nominated Washington University law professor Troy Paredes as a replacement for Atkins. In addition, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox is expected to depart at the end of Bush's term, according to Thomson's Accounting & Compliance Alert.

Atkins leaves with almost 10 years of service with the agency. He served from 1990-94 on the staffs of two former SEC chairmen, Richard C. Breeden and Arthur Levitt, as chief of staff and counselor, respectively.

"I have had the honor of serving at the SEC during some of the most challenging times for the agency and the capital markets," said Atkins in a statement. "I started in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals and the enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley, which imposed a very demanding rulemaking timeline on the SEC. With the hard work of my colleagues on the commission and the talented staff, we were able to address those problems. We are once again in difficult times, and I am confident that the dedicated men and women at the SEC will be able to overcome the current challenges."

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