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Former FBI and CIA director William Webster resigned Tuesday as chairman of the new Public Accounting Oversight Board. “I now believe my continued presence on the board will only generate more distractions which will not be helpful to the important mission of the board,” he said in a statement. Webster’s resignation comes amid controversy over his tenure as a member of the audit commission of U.S. Technologies Inc., which is accused of fraud. The revelation also triggered the resignation of Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt, who failed to disclose Webster’s association with the company to the White House and the agency’s other commissioner. Webster, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, said he would help the oversight board in its formation. Pitt expressed regret about Webster’s resignation. “I continue to believe that investors would have benefited from Judge Webster’s dedication to the best interest of the American people,” Pitt said in a statement. The board, formed under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to police and set standards for the accounting industry, could have a difficult time identifying a new chairman and hiring staff by the April 25 deadline to launch the group, observers say. Sources have indicated that the SEC will take up to six months to identify, nominate and confirm a new agency head. If the agency waits until a new SEC chairman is appointed before selecting a new audit board head, it could miss the statutory deadline. Separately, the SEC said it was set to name deputy chief accountant Jackson Day as the agency’s acting chief accountant. Day replaces Robert Herdman, who Pitt designated to investigate Webster’s association with U.S. Technologies and who resigned Nov. 8. Copyright �2002 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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