SEC top enforcer to leave agency: source

WASHINGTON Mon Feb 9, 2009 1:30pm EST

Mary Schapiro, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, speaks after being introduced during a news conference in Chicago December 18, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Mary Schapiro, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, speaks after being introduced during a news conference in Chicago December 18, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Haynes

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Securities and Exchange Commission will announce on Monday that its top enforcement official, Linda Thomsen, plans to leave the agency and return to the private sector, a source familiar with the matter said.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami is expected to replace her as the SEC's enforcement director, one source familiar with the matter told Reuters over the weekend.

Another source said Thomsen had scheduled to speak to her staff and the entire enforcement division Monday morning. It was not immediately known if she would stay until Khuzami starts at the agency, the source said on Monday.

The source said the SEC was due to make the announcement at 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT) on Monday.

The SEC declined to comment.

The enforcement division has been heavily criticized for how it handled the case of Bernard Madoff, the former financier who is accused of defrauding investors of $50 billion.

Reuters reported Saturday that an announcement on Thomsen's replacement was expected as early as this week.

Thomsen was appointed SEC enforcement chief in 2005 under former SEC Chairman William Donaldson and remained in that position under former SEC Chairman Christopher Cox.

New SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro is under pressure to restore the agency's reputation as a tough policeman on Wall Street.

(Reporting by John Poirier, Rachelle Younglai; editing by Andre Grenon and Jeffrey Benkoe)