Originally created 02/19/03

New SEC chairman sworn in



WASHINGTON -- President Bush, presiding at a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday to install William H. Donaldson as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, called the Wall Street investment banker "the right man at the right time."

"Bill will be a strong leader of the SEC and forceful advocate of the interests of investors," Bush said. "Bill Donaldson has spent a career preparing for this challenge."

The 71-year-old former New York Stock Exchange chairman replaces Harvey Pitt, who resigned under fire in early November after a series of political missteps. Donaldson promised that his agency will rebuild investor confidence shattered by last year's wave of corporate scandals.

"We will hold accountable all those who have violated the public trust," he said. "We will demand responsible corporate governance throughout the business and financial world."

Donaldson also said, "We will strengthen our market structure, making the markets more efficient, more transparent and friendlier to all investors, particularly small investors."

During his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month, Donaldson said that if confirmed, he would aggressively enforce corporate anti-fraud rules. He also said his highest priority is selecting a new chairman of the board overseeing the accounting industry.

The SEC now has expanded powers and new rules under legislation enacted by Congress last summer to combat company fraud, enhance corporate accountability and tighten oversight of the scandal-tainted accounting industry.

In addition, Bush asked Congress this month for an $841 million budget for the agency, marking the biggest jump in the SEC's history as it investigates and prosecutes a heavy load of corporate fraud and accounting deception.

Pitt resigned in large part over his selection of former FBI Director William Webster to head the accounting board. Webster also quit during the uproar late last year.

The SEC chairman and four fellow commissioners - three Republicans and two Democrats, including Donaldson - appoint the accounting board chief.

On the Net:

Securities and Exchange Commission: http://www.sec.gov