Sirri to Leave SEC Trading and Markets Unit in April

Erik Sirri, who heads the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission unit that oversees stock exchanges and brokerage firms, plans to step down at the end of April to return to academia.

Sirri, who joined the SEC in September 2006, worked on rules that temporarily banned short-selling of financial stocks and helped write regulations aimed at eliminating conflicts of interest at credit-rating companies. The SEC, in a statement today, didn’t say who would replace Sirri as director of the division of trading and markets.

“During recent financial troubles, Erik was a calm voice who provided thoughtful advice to the commission,” SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said in the statement. “While I respect Erik’s decision to re-enter private life and rejoin his family in Massachusetts, I am grateful for his gift of public service.”

Trading and markets has drawn fire from lawmakers and SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz, who in a Sept. 26 report said the division failed to respond to “red flags” at Bear Stearns Cos. before the investment bank neared collapse last year.

Sirri’s departure will leave a vacancy atop the SEC unit that may have the biggest role in overseeing credit derivatives as Congress moves to regulate products blamed for contributing to the financial crisis.

One of Sirri’s deputies, Robert Colby, left the SEC in February to become a private attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell. The other deputy, Daniel Gallagher, remains at the agency.

Sirri re-joined the SEC in 2006 as director of trading and markets from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He had previously served as the SEC’s chief economist from 1996 to 1999.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Westbrook in Washington at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alec D.B. McCabe at amccabe@bloomberg.net

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