Securities and Exchange Commission commissioner Laura Unger is to step down, leaving the US market watchdog perilously understaffed during a time of heightened stock market anxiety.
Unger is leaving to pursue a career in the private sector after serving a full five-year term at the Commission. Her departure follows that of Richard Walker, the SEC enforcement director who established the agency's Internet surveillance programme and who recently left to work for an investment banking firm.
Since her appointment to the SEC, Unger has strongly advocated policies to promote market integrity, efficiency and investor protection, with a particular emphasis on the impact of technology on the securities industry. In November 1999, she authored a ground-breaking report on technology and retail brokerage, 'Online Brokerage: Keeping Apace of Cyberspace'.
Earlier this year, Unger took on the role of acting chariman following the departure of Arthur Levitt. Levitt's vacant position was recently filled by Harvey Pitt.
Unger's departure leaves the SEC with only two commissioners out of a full complement of five.