After 16 years, the executive director of the Securities and Exchange Commission will step down to pursue opportunities in the private sector.Jim McConnell, 58, who joined the SEC in 1984 as a management analyst, plans to retire in early June and said that he will spend the next two months assisting with transition efforts at the agency.

"Jim McConnell has become an institution at the SEC," said Chairman Christopher Cox, in a statement. "He has overseen the remarkable growth in the commission's budget and responsibilities that followed in the wake of Enron and other corporate scandals."

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