SEC Names Hewitt Chief Accountant

Says he will work with the PCAOB to eliminate "excessive costs and burdens."
Stephen TaubJuly 24, 2006

Conrad Hewitt, former chief financial regulator for the State of California, was named chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. He will oversee accounting interpretations, international accounting matters, and professional practice issues, for the SEC.

Hewitt also will lead several of the commission’s projects related to corporate finance, including, implementing the Sarbanes-Oxley’s Act’s Section 404—the law’s internal control provision—reducing complexity in accounting; enforcing compliance of U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles; and promoting the convergence of U.S. and international accounting standards, specifically the coming together of GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards, noted the SEC announcement.

“Conrad Hewitt brings to the SEC over 30 year’s experience as a leader of one of the world’s largest accounting firms, a strong background as a regulator, and recent service as chairman of 10 audit committees,” declared SEC Chairman Christopher Cox.

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Hewitt is currently chairman of the audit committee of Varian Inc. He also chairs the audit committee of North Bay Bancorp, and chairs both the compensation committees and the audit committees of S&P Co. and its subsidiary Pabst Brewing Co. From 1995 to 1998, Hewitt was California Superintendent of Banking, and Commissioner of the California Department of Financial Institutions. Between 1972 and 1995, he was managing partner of Ernst and Young, and its predecessor firm, Ernst and Ernst.

Hewitt cited his prior professional experience with the accounting and auditing communities as setting the stage for success in his new role. “Having worked closely with former Financial Accounting Standards Board Chairman Denny Beresford, I particularly look forward to a close working relationship with the FASB.

Further, he talked about his experience as a board member, especially recent Sarbox compliance efforts, noting that the work has given him, “great respect for the role of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Indeed, without going into detail, he alluded to easing corporate cost burdens associated with auditing. Hewitt asserted: “I look forward to working with the professionals [at the PCAOB] to maximize the protection of shareholders while eliminating excessive costs and burdens both here and abroad.”