Schapiro stepping down after leading SEC in crisis

Monday - 11/26/2012, 12:55pm EST

This story was updated at 11:36 a.m. to include comments from the White House.

By MARCY GORDON
AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Mary Schapiro is stepping down as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission after helping lead the Obama administration's regulatory response to the 2008 financial crisis.

The SEC says Schapiro will leave on Dec. 14 after four years in office. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. She took over after the agency failed to detect the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

"It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to work with so many dedicated SEC staff who strive every day to protect investors and ensure our markets operate with integrity," Schapiro said in a statement. "Over the past four years we have brought a record number of enforcement actions, engaged in one of the busiest rulemaking periods, and gained greater authority from Congress to better fulfill our mission."

Obama said he intends to designate Elisse Walter, one of the five members of the commission, as chair once Schapiro steps down next month, according to a White House statement.

"When Mary agreed to serve nearly four years ago, she was fully aware of the difficulties facing the SEC and our economy as a whole. But she accepted the challenge, and today, the SEC is stronger and our financial system is safer and better able to serve the American people — thanks in large part to Mary's hard work," the President said in a statement.

Schapiro is credited with helping reshaping the agency during a tumultuous period. But critics say she failed to act aggressively to bring charges against leading figures who contributed to the financial crisis.

Schapiro previously served as a commissioner at the SEC from 1988 to 1994.

Federal News Radio's Jolie Lee contributed to this story.