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Obama seeks 12 percent budget increase for SEC

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is seeking a 12 percent budget increase for the Securities and Exchange Commission, including $419 million for more than 100 new enforcement staff to work on the agency's burgeoning caseload targeting fraud and market manipulation.

The request to Congress Monday for nearly $1.3 billion for the SEC in the budget year starting Oct. 1 would boost total staff to 4,190 from the current 3,800 at the traditionally low-profile agency, which was rocked by its failure to detect the massive 16-year fraud by money manager Bernard Madoff.

The request includes a 10.6 percent increase in enforcement attorneys and investigators, to 1,368.

It was the first budget proposed for the agency under SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, who assumed the post a year ago as the SEC was pummeled by criticism over its failure to uncover Madoff's multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme despite numerous red flags and credible warnings.

"If enacted, the president's request will do a great deal to help us keep pace with the continuing growth of the markets and provide necessary resources to support important regulatory initiatives in 2011," Schapiro said in a statement.

- AP

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