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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
US bosses face further charges
News of a government investigation at Johnson & Johnson gave Wall Street another reason for a selloff on Friday pushing the Dow industrials to post-terrorist lows.
High profile company officials could be jailed
More of the bosses responsible for the accounting scandals riddling US companies could be facing charges within the week, the chief US stock market regulator, has told the BBC.

Speaking on the Today Programme, Harvey Pitt said that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which he chairs, will be preparing fresh charges in the coming weeks.


People said wow, it's amazing we can get a guy with this kind of experience who knows where all the bodies are buried

Harvey Pitt
SEC chairman
"I expect this week and in the following weeks we will see more high-profile indictments of people who abused their public trust," he said.

A number of high-profile officials will find themselves in the spotlight for potential criminal sanctions like jail time."

He refused either to name companies or individuals, or give a tighter timetable.

"We're not going to see 25 or 30 this week," he told the Today programme, "but eventually everyone who is responsible for the misconduct, the cheating of investors that we've seen has to be held accountable.

"That's the only way we will convince people that if you do hard crimes you do hard time."

'Kind and gentle'

Mr Pitt's comments follow unprecedented criticism of US business culture by the chief of the New York Federal Reserve, WIlliam McDonough, who said senior executives' sky-high pay packets were bloated and immoral.

They also follow complaints levelled against Mr Pitt throughout the furore surrounding companies such as collapsed energy trader Enron, bankrupt telecoms company WorldCom, Tyco - whose chief executive is charged with tax fraud - and the auditor Arthur Andersen.

Critics have said the SEC chief's background as a Wall Street lawyer for almost all of the firms under suspicion makes him unsuitable to keep them in line.

Others point to his desire - expressed when he was appointed last year - for a "kindler, gentler SEC" and contrast it with the public desire to see regulators get tough with transgressors.

And they compare the package of accounting reforms enacted by Congress with a much weaker package he had proposed.

But Mr Pitt struck back during his interview.

"Everybody knew what my background was and they hailed it," he said, blaming the contention on the fact that 2002 is a US election year.

"People said wow, it's amazing we can get a guy with this kind of experience who knows where all the bodies are buried."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Harvey Pitt, Securities and Exchange Commission
"A number of high-level officials will find themselves in the spotlight"

Analysis

IN DEPTH
The Markets: 9:29 UK
FTSE 100 5760.40 -151.7
Dow Jones 11380.99 -119.7
Nasdaq 2243.78 -28.9
FTSE delayed by 15 mins, Dow and Nasdaq by 20 mins
Launch marketwatch
View market data
See also:

19 Jul 02 | Business
18 Jul 02 | Archive
16 Jul 02 | Business
15 Jul 02 | Business
16 Jul 02 | Business
28 Jun 02 | Business
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