According to a statement from the director of the SEC Historical Society shared with Reuters, Harvey Pitt, a former chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, passed away on Tuesday.
Pitt, who was chosen by President George W. Bush to head the SEC in 2001, was in charge of overseeing the closing of financial markets following the September 11, 2001 attacks. He had previously served in a variety of capacities at the organization, including general counsel and staff attorney. In 1977, the year before he left the organization, he was given the SEC’s Award for distinguished service.
“It was one of his greatest dreams to come back later in his career to chair the agency,” the five current members of the SEC Commission said in a statement.
In 2003, he quit the organization once more after receiving criticism for choosing a former FBI director entangled in an accounting crisis to lead the recently established Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Following the failures of WorldCom and Enron to regain investor confidence, the accounting watchdog was established.
At the time, fellow SEC Commissioner Roel Campos said: “There has certainly never been anyone who loved this agency more than Chairman Pitt.”
Pitt blamed the politicization of the agency following the Enron scandal for his departure in a 2005 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. Pitt also emphasized the work the committee had done to create new laws under the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
According to the SEC’s website, Pitt attended both the City University of New York and the St. John’s University School of Law. At various stages, he served as an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.
Most recently, Pitt established and oversaw the Washington-based consulting and legal firm Kalorama Partners. According to a statement from Jane Cobb, executive director of the SEC Historical Society, he passed away on Tuesday. He was 78.
“Over the years, Harvey has been extremely generous with his time and sage advice,” said Michael Piwowar, a former SEC commissioner.