The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ex-Fed chief may patrol accounts

Washington, Aug. 23: Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, has emerged as the top choice to head the new regulatory body that will oversee the accounting profession, federal officials said Thursday, although Volcker has been wavering over whether to take the job.

A leading voice for sharper oversight of the profession, Volcker recently led an unsuccessful effort to overhaul Arthur Andersen to save it from collapsing. When he took that assignment last February, he said he had hoped to make Andersen a model for the reform of the profession, and he viewed the task as an important conclusion to his formidable career.

“It was a dream, like Don Quixote,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “Still, trying to bring change does make the blood run.’

“There may be some legislative need for an oversight board,” he added, months before Congress finally approved one last month, “but you need an oversight body with teeth.”

Friends of Volcker, who will be 75 in two weeks and led the Fed from 1979 to 1987, say he has been hesitant to take the job for personal reasons and because it could cut into his other professional obligations here and abroad. As a leader of efforts to persuade Swiss banks to return deposits to families of Holocaust victims, he has established himself as a powerful moral voice.

Volcker’s secretary said Thursday that he was travelling and unavailable to comment. Two friends who spoke to him this week described him as deeply conflicted about whether to take the job. One said he was asking the kinds of questions about the details of the job that suggested he had not made up his mind.

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