The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission appointed on Tuesday an insider, James Kroeker, as its top accountant, where he will be responsible for thorny issues such as off-balance sheet accounting.

Kroeker, who joined the SEC in 2007, represented the agency earlier this year before a testy Congressional hearing on the mark-to-market accounting standard, which was blamed for billions of dollars in bank write-downs.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets accounting standards, relaxed the rule within a month of the hearing.

Kroeker was seen as even handed during the (mark-to-market) debate, said Thomas Quaadman, executive director with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country's largest business lobby.

This was a critical appointment with many major issues looming over the financial reporting horizon, Quaadman said.

Previously a partner at one of the Big Four accounting firms Deloitte & Touche , Kroeker joined the SEC as its deputy chief accountant in February 2007. Kroeker has been serving as the SEC's acting chief accountant since January of this year.

(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)