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James Doty to chair SEC accounting oversight board

Jan 21st 2011
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James Doty, a partner at Washington, D.C.-based law firm Baker Botts LLP who served as general counsel for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the early 1990s, was recently appointed by SEC chairman Mary Schapiro to lead the agency’s Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).

Established under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 – which was enacted by Congress following the corporate and accounting scandals at Enron Corp., Tyco International Ltd., Adelphia Communications Corp., and WorldCom – the PCAOB is a nonprofit corporation that oversees the audits of public companies and broker-dealers in order to protect the interests of investors and further the public interest in the preparation of informative, accurate, and independent audit reports, according to the SEC. The industry had been self-regulated.

Doty, who starts his new job February 1, said in a written statement he is looking forward to working with the other board members and staff of the PCAOB.

"This is an important time for our capital markets and the board. There is much work to be done for America’s investing public, and I’m eager to get started", he added.

Doty served as SEC general counsel from 1990 to 1992. His responsibilities included advising the agency and its staff on questions of law, the conduct of administrative proceedings, preparing comments to Congress on pending legislation, and the drafting of legislative proposals sponsored by the SEC.

Doty joined the corporate department of Baker Botts in 1969 and practiced there until 1987, when he moved from Houston to Washington to direct the law firm’s corporate practice.

During his tenure at Baker Botts, Doty represented publicly traded companies, investment banks, and securities firms – often before the SEC – in regulatory, enforcement, and compliance matters. His clients included Citigroup Inc., Conseco Inc., Invesco Ltd., Reliant Energy, and UnitedHealth Group Inc. In 2003, Doty led an independent investigative team that looked into whether accounting fraud was committed at mortgage finance company Freddie Mac.

"It is not easy to call it a career at Baker Botts, where I have spent most of the past 40 or so years. It’s a great firm, and it has been a wonderful place to have practiced law", Doty said. "The work has been compelling, and the camaraderie and fellowship associated with working alongside such bright, talented, and engaging partners and associates have been a reward in itself. I will miss that most of all."

The SEC filled two other member vacancies on the PCAOB by appointing Lewis Ferguson and Jay Hanson to the five-member panel. Ferguson, a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and a member of the firm’s securities regulation and corporate transactions practice groups, served as the first general counsel of the PCAOB from 2004 to 2007. Hanson is a partner and the national director of accounting at McGladrey & Pullen LLP in Bloomington, Minnesota, with overall responsibility for leading the firm’s accounting standards group.

"The PCAOB fulfills a crucial role to ensure financial information provided to investors is fairly presented", Hanson said in a written statement. "The PCAOB’s oversight has helped to improve audit quality and strengthen the auditing profession. I’m honored to be appointed to this important role."

The five members of the PCAOB, including the chairman, are appointed to staggered, five-year terms, according to the SEC.

"Jim, Jay, and Lew bring a deep and diverse perspective to the board through their substantial experience and commitment to the interests of investors and the public", Schapiro said in a written statement. "These prominent individuals have in-depth knowledge of the financial reporting system and auditing framework, which will serve the PCAOB well as it executes its rigorous agenda."

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