Securities and Exchange Commissioner Paul Atkins announced yesterday that he intends to leave the SEC following the end of his term later this year.
A Republican who was first appointed to the five-member commission by President Bush in July 2002, Atkins plans to stay until his successor is appointed and takes office, the SEC said in a statement.
In his six years as a commissioner, Atkins' has pushed for greater transparency and cost-benefit analysis in the SEC rulemaking process, the statement said. Among other things, he has emphasized investor education and increased enforcement efforts against those who steal from investors through Ponzi schemes, boiler room operations, market manipulations, and Internet and other frauds designed to steal investors' savings.
Atkins also has traveled extensively,- working on at least four continents to address increased cooperation with foreign regulators and financial organizations and to help streamline SEC regulations so that they coordinate effectively with the rules of other countries. His efforts have helped to encourage foreign companies to invest, as well as list their securities, in the United States, the statement said.
"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," Atkins said. "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."
Atkins has served roughly 10 years at the SEC, working from 1990 to 1994 as an attorney who dealt with municipal issues. Immediately prior to becoming a commissioner, he was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and in July 2002 he was appointed to fill a seat on the SEC that had been held by Arthur Levitt, who had left as chairman the previous year.
"Over the course of two decades, commissioner Atkins has worked energetically to ensure that the administration of the nation's securities laws is fair, efficient, and transparent," SEC chairman Christopher Cox saidyesterday. "He has worked with five chairmen to advance the causes of investor protection and the improvement of our capital markets. At a time when the men and women of our armed services are being called upon to make extraordinary sacrifices, Paul Atkins has led the agency's investor education initiatives at military bases across the country and around the world."
A member of the New York and Florida bars, Atkins received his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1983
Atkins' announcement comes amid a period of turnover for the commission. Last month, President Bush nominated two Democrats - attorney Luis Aguilar and securities regulator Elisse Walter - to fill the vacancies created when Roel Campos and Annette Nazareth left in September and February, respectively. Nazareth's departure left the SEC with three Republican members and no Democrats.
Aguilar, a partner at McKenna, Long & Aldridge LLP in Atlanta, and Walter, senior executive vice president for regulatory policy and programs at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, should face an easy confirmation because they were recommended for the SEC posts by key Senate Democrats.