NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mary Schapiro, the first woman to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced on Monday that she will step down from the agency on December 14 with more than a year left on her term.
During her four years leading the SEC, Schapiro was widely hailed for her efforts to rehabilitate the agency’s reputation in the wake of the financial crisis and multi-billion dollar Ponzi schemes perpetrated by Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford. But Schapiro’s efforts to tighten rules regarding money market funds and to restore investors’ faith in the structure and stability of the stock market fell short.
A brief look at some of her wins and losses.
* Under Schapiro’s leadership, the SEC launched a record 735 enforcement actions in 2011, and 734 actions in 2012. The SEC returned more than $6 billion to investors and obtained more than $11 billion in ordered disgorgements and penalties during Schapiro’s tenure.
* Restructured the Division of Enforcement into five specialized units that focused on investigations into asset management firms, abuses by institutional traders and market professionals; abuses related to derivatives and other structured financial products; violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; and public pension fund corruption. The SEC recruited people with Wall Street experience as part of this effort.
* Created the first national database for all misconduct-related tips and complaints and created the Office of Market Intelligence to review and analyze them.
* Streamlined enforcement procedures, making it easier for attorneys to initiate investigations and settlement negotiations.
* With trading volumes declining, retail investors continued to lose confidence in the stock market amid cracks in the market structure ranging from the 2010 Flash Crash to the market problems surrounding Facebook’s IPO in 2012.
* Failed to win enough support for proposals to reform money market fund pricing in the face of opposition from fund companies.
* The SEC remains bogged down with its responsibilities in writing financial regulations required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. More than 60 rules are yet to be finalized.
* Despite a record $550 million settlement with Goldman Sachs regarding charges that it misled investors, the SEC was unable to bring charges against any key executives at financial firms for their part in creating the 2008 financial crisis.
* A federal appeals court threw out the agency’s “proxy access” rule, which would have empowered shareholders to nominate directors to corporate boards. The decision, based on the agency’s faulty analysis of the costs and benefits of the rule, emboldened groups to continually push for more analysis, slowing down the pace of reforms.
Reporting By David Randall; Editing by Lauren Young, Jennifer Merritt and Tim Dobbyn