There have been two moves in SEC leadership over the last week that warrant attention.
First, last week, the SEC announced that Division of Enforcement Co-Director Steven Peikin will leave the agency at the end of this week. Stephanie Avakian, who has served alongside Mr. Peikin as Co-Director, will remain Director upon Mr. Peikin’s departure.
During his three years of service as Co-Director, Mr. Peikin, together with Avakian, established the agency’s Cyber Unit, increased retail investor protections, and recently created the Coronavirus Steering Committee to combat COVID-related fraud.
According to the SEC, “Under the Co-Directors’ leadership, the Enforcement Division redoubled its focus on the needs of retail investors and, at the same time, continued to police the broad landscape of the securities markets and vigorously pursue securities law violators. These efforts are reflected in the results: during the Co-Directors’ tenure, the Commission brought thousands of high-quality enforcement actions, obtained judgments and orders totaling over $13.5 billion in disgorgement and penalties, and returned more than $3.1 billion to harmed investors.”
According to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, the Enforcement Division “increased its efficiency, flexibility, and impact” under Mr. Peikin’s and Ms. Avakian’s leadership, and their investor-first efforts “have resulted in thousands of actions that have righted wrongs and, more importantly, both returned illicit gains to harmed investors and eliminated improper fees, providing lasting savings for years to come. Further, the efforts of the women and men in the Division to promptly address COVID-19 related misconduct demonstrate the flexibility, expertise and commitment to our mission that Steve and Stephanie’s leadership has fostered across the SEC.”
We would expect Ms. Avakian to serve as Director of the Enforcement Division through at least the end of this year though her tenure could change depending on the outcome of the election. If there are any changes in her role we’ll report them.
Second, last week the Senate confirmed the nominations of Hester Peirce, for her second term as SEC Commissioner, and Caroline Crenshaw, for her first term. Ms. Crenshaw, who was put forth by Democrats to replace former Commissioner Robert J. Jackson, Jr., joined the SEC in 2013 and has served in the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, the Division of Investment Management, and as Counsel to Commissioners Kara M. Stein and Jackson. Her work has focused on legal and policy analysis related to corporate governance, investment management, enforcement, international regulation, and the oversight of self-regulatory organizations. She also serves as a Captain in the United States Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General’s Corps.