Another prominent official is leaving the Securities and Exchange Commission. Giovanni Prezioso, general counsel since April 2002, said he plans to return to the private sector, although he does not appear to have a new job yet. He plans to remain at the commission until early 2006 to assist with the transition.
“Prezioso served as the commission’s chief legal officer during a time of unprecedented enforcement and regulatory activity,” the regulator noted in its announcement.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC plans to quickly name a replacement. The paper also pointed out that Prezioso’s departure raises questions about who will lead the SEC’s defense of its new governance rule that requires mutual fund companies to have an independent chairperson for their board of directors.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed suit to block implementation of the rule, the paper noted, and oral arguments are scheduled for January 6 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. SEC officials said it is unclear whether Prezioso will argue the government’s side, reported the Journal.
During Prezioso’s tenure, the Office of the General Counsel reviewed and provided legal advice to the commission on more than 2,000 enforcement actions and more than 100 rulemaking proceedings, according to the SEC. His office was also responsible for coordinating the commission’s implementation of the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act within the strict timeframes set by Congress. Further, the Office of the General Counsel drafted regulations under Sarbanes-Oxley that established the first formal commission standards of professional conduct for attorneys representing public companies.
In addition to general counsel, SEC chairman Christopher Cox still must fill a number of other key vacancies, including director of market regulation, head of investment management, chief accountant, and chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.