Mary Schapiro, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said she wanted to show that her agency was cracking down after missing Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme. In May, she proposed that almost 10,000 wealth managers undergo surprise inspections to make sure they were not ripping off clients.

"Investors are looking to the SEC to assure the safekeeping of their assets," Schapiro said at the time. "We cannot let them down."

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