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SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro to Step Down

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One of the nation's top Wall Street regulators, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro, will step down next month, after nearly four years as head of the SEC.

Schapiro took over an SEC embarrassed by its failure to detect Bernie Madoff's massive ponzi scheme. As SEC chairman, Schapiro brought civil charges against the nation's biggest banks. But critics say she wasn't tough enough on the individuals whose risky bets contributed to the economic crisis.  

"I want to express my deep gratitude to Mary Schapiro for her steadfast leadership at the Securities and Exchange Commission," President Obama said in a statement Monday. "When Mary agreed to serve nearly four years ago, she was fully aware of the difficulties facing the SEC and our economy as a whole. But she accepted the challenge, and today, the SEC is stronger and our financial system is safer and better able to serve the American people – thanks in large part to Mary's hard work."

To replace her as chairman, President Obama has tapped a fellow SEC commissioner, Elisse Walter, who was first appointed by then-President Bush in 2008.

"I'm confident that Elisse's years of experience will serve her well in her new position, and I'm grateful she has agreed to help lead the agency," the president said.

Schapiro's resignation will take effect on Dec. 14.

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ABC News Radio