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Tough Enough

Despite speculations of a kinder SEC, Harvey Pitt is cracking down on business.

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This story appears in the April 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It didn't take long for Harvey L. Pitt, the new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman, to win over those hoping to see a more moderate regulatory agency and rile up the fans of his predecessor, Arthur Levitt. Soon after Pitt took office, critics grumbled that his new vow to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Governing Council (AICPA) of "a new era of respect and cooperation" signaled the coming of a toothless SEC more likely to respond to overly aggressive accounting practices with a frown than with a harsh penalty.

After all, Pitt had spent years fighting the SEC as a top defense attorney for individuals and companies charged with securities violations. And when Levitt fought for auditing process reform-arguing against accounting firms acting as independent auditors of companies for which they perform consulting work-it was Pitt who served as a central attorney on behalf of the accounting industry.

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