According to a New York Times report, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) named John Biggs to the position after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker turned down the offer.
SEC chairman Harvey Pitt said the commission has not yet named the other four members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).
The board was created by Congress two months ago after a wave of corporate scandals shook investor confidence and sent the stock markets swooning.
The agency has been given a broad mandate to set ethics and conflict-of-interest standards, discipline accountants and conduct annual reviews of the largest accounting firms, according to the Times story. Its budget will come from assessments levied on the corporate clients of the auditing firms.
Biggs, 66, is an economist, actuary and former top educator and insurance executive. His term as chairman and chief executive of TIAA-CREF is scheduled to expire next spring. With $265 billion in assets for 15,000 institutions, the investment plan – formally the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund – is the largest pension system in the country for educational institutions. See Biggs Leading Contender for Accounting Oversight Board .
Through a spokesman, Biggs declined today to discuss his role at the oversight board with the Times.
However, his views about accounting regulation have become well known in Washington this year. He has spoken publicly and testified repeatedly to Congress about the need for tougher regulation of accountants and called for tighter accounting of stock options granted to corporate executives.
Biggs also urged Congress to go beyond the proposals made by Pitt in establishing a tough and independent oversight agency. And at his own company, he has rotated TIAA-CREF’s auditors every five to seven years, and not used the same accounting firms to perform both auditing and consulting functions.