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SEC names two enforcement chiefs

The enforcement division’s George CanellosThe Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday said acting director George Canellos and former federal prosecutor Andrew Ceresney will share leadership of the enforcement division as co-directors.

Canellos, 48, has been acting director since January following a stint as deputy director since June 2012. Before that, he headed the SEC’s New York regional office — the biggest field office in the agency. He helped develop the enforcement division’s Cooperation Program, which led to the SEC’s first-ever non-prosecution agreement, entered into with Ralph Lauren Corporation on Monday.

The other co-director of the enforcement division — Andrew Ceresney, 41 — was a deputy chief appellate attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He was a member of the securities and commodities fraud task force and the major crimes unit.

He and Mary Jo White, the SEC’s new chairman, were partners together at the New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. He also worked for White when she was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York until 2002.

Kara Brockmeyer currently heads the SEC’s FCPA unit. She formerly served as an assistant director in the enforcement division.

New York Times reporters Ben Protess and Peter Lattman said Monday the unusual joint leadership of the SEC’s enforcement division ‘is likely to be temporary.’

They said George Canellos, ‘who has been at the SEC nearly four years, is expected to return to private practice well before the end of President Obama’s second term.’ 

Canellos was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York for nine years starting in 1994. He was later a partner at the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.

The enforcement division is the SEC’s biggest unit, with more than 1,200 investigators, accountants, trial attorneys, and other professionals. Its prior chief, Robert Khuzami, was also a former federal prosecutor. He left the SEC earlier this year. During his tenure, the agency brought an all-time record number of 735 enforcement actions in 2011 and 734 actions in 2012.

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