SEC chief Mary Schapiro to step down

Schapiro oversaw SEC during financial crisis

WASHINGTON - U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Schapiro announced on Monday that she will be stepping down from her post on Jan. 14.

Schapiro oversaw the regulation of the financial securities during a tumultuous time. She took the top job in January 2009 as the agency was reeling from criticism that it didn't do enough to spot and prevent events that led to the financial crisis.

Under her watch, the agency was roundly criticized for missing the multi-billion dollar Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme, even after it was warned about the scam from a whistleblower. The agency was also under fire for its lax supervision of financial firms like Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy during the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

In recent years, however, the agency has beefed up its enforcements against financial firms, that have broken rules.

"Over the past four years we have brought a record number of enforcement actions, engaged in one of the busiest rulemaking periods, and gained greater authority from Congress to better fulfill our mission," Schapiro said in a statement.

An Independent, Chairman Schapiro served as a SEC commissioner from 1988 to 1994, appointed by Republicans Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. President Clinton appointed her as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where she served until 1996.

The Associated Press reported that SEC official Elisse Walter will lead the agency after Schapiro's departure.