Who Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Why Watch? SEC chief faces a raft of problems in cleaning up financial scandals.
That old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times," must have occurred to William Donaldson over the past few months.
Accounting scandals. Corporate fraud. Improper trading practices in the $7 trillion mutual-fund industry. Times don't get much more interesting than these for the government agency charged with protecting investors and maintaining the integrity of the financial markets.
Donaldson, 71, took the SEC's reins last year following the resignation of Harvey "Embattled" Pitt, who was criticized for being too close to the scandal-plagued accounting industry. With polls showing the public's confidence in the SEC at an all-time low, Donaldson, a founder of the Wall Street investment house Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and a former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, pledged to create "a new environment of integrity and accountability that goes well beyond adherence to laws."
Since then, Donaldson has been playing Whack-A-Mole with one ethical mess after another as critics wait to see whether he and his boss, President Bush, are serious about using the agency's expanded powers, granted by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, including stronger criminal penalties for white-collar crimes and new rules for stock analysts and lawyers.