Paul S. Atkins was appointed by President George W. Bush to be a Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 29, 2002.
Commissioner Atkins's career has focused on the financial services industry and securities regulation. Before his appointment as commissioner, he assisted financial services firms in improving their compliance with SEC regulations and worked with law enforcement agencies to investigate and rectify situations where investors had been harmed. The largest of these investigations involved the Bennett Funding Group, Inc., a $1 billion leasing company that perpetrated the largest "Ponzi" fraud in U.S. history, in which more than 20,000 investors lost much of their investment. Assisting the company’s court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, he served as crisis president of Bennett’s sole surviving subsidiary. By stabilizing its finances and operations and rebuilding and expanding its business, Commissioner Atkins improved its share value for the remaining investors by almost 2000%.
From 1990-94, Commissioner Atkins served on the staff of two former chairmen of the SEC, Richard C. Breeden and Arthur Levitt, ultimately as executive assistant and counsellor, respectively. Under Chairman Breeden, he assisted in efforts to improve regulations regarding corporate governance, enhance shareholder communications, strengthen management accountability through proxy reform, and decrease barriers to entry for small businesses and middle market companies to the capital markets. Under Chairman Levitt, he was responsible for organizing the SEC's individual investor program, including the first investor town hall meetings, an SEC consumer affairs advisory committee, and other investor education efforts, including the original Invest Wisely brochures regarding the fundamentals of the retail brokerage relationship and mutual fund investment.
Commissioner Atkins began his career as a lawyer in New York City, focusing on a wide range of corporate transactions for U.S. and foreign clients, including public and private securities offerings and mergers and acquisitions. He was resident for 2½ years in his firm's Paris office and admitted as conseil juridique in France in 1988.
A member of the New York and Florida bars, Commissioner Atkins received his J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1983 and was Senior Student Writing Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. He received his A.B. from Wofford College in 1980 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Originally from Lillington, North Carolina, Commissioner Atkins grew up in Tampa, Florida. He is married with three sons.
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