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Under Madoff cloud, SEC enforcement chief will leave

February 9, 2009 | 11:37 am

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which missed plenty of opportunities to uncover Bernie Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme, will be getting a new enforcement chief.

Linda Chatman Thomsen, who has headed the agency’s enforcement division since 2005, will step down, the SEC said today.

LindathomsenThomsen was raked over the coals by Congress last week for failing to nab Madoff, even though private securities sleuth Harry Markopolos said he tried for more than nine years to show the SEC how Madoff was operating a fraud.

Thomsen, 54, might have been on her way out in any case, with new SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro succeeding Christopher Cox last month.

The leading candidate to replace Thomsen is former federal prosecutor Robert Khuzami, 52, now a top attorney at Deutsche Bank, Bloomberg News reported.

Khuzami’s "deep background" in criminal enforcement would help boost faith in the agency’s ability to track down securities fraudsters, James Cox, a law professor at Duke University, told Bloomberg.

Thomsen has been at the SEC for nearly 14 years, all of them in the enforcement division. She was named to head that unit by SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson in 2005. Cox kept her on when he took over from Donaldson later that year.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Linda Chatman Thomsen testifying last week on the Madoff scandal.

Credit: Susan Walsh / Associated Press