In his first major appointment, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler named Alex Oh director of the agency’s Division of Enforcement.
Oh is a former assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where she served on the Securities & Commodities Fraud Task Force and the Major Crimes Unit, the SEC said in a Thursday announcement. Most recently, she was a partner at the law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison.
“Our capital markets – and the broader economy – thrive when there are clear rules of the road and a cop on the beat to enforce them,” Gensler said in a statement. “Alex brings to the role of director the right combination of values and experience to vigorously root out wrongdoing in our markets. With her work as a prosecutor, pro bono experience, and time in private practice, she has the expertise as a highly respected lawyer to ensure that the SEC protects investors.”
A couple of other recent SEC enforcement chiefs also had experience as federal prosecutors, including Robert Khuzami, who was head of the division under former SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, and Steven Peikin, who served as co-director of enforcement for former SEC Chair Jay Clayton.
Oh’s appointment “continues a trend,” said Kurt Wolfe, a securities attorney at Troutman Pepper.
Ken Joseph, a former supervisor in the SEC Division of Enforcement’s Asset Management Unit, said the SEC’s policing arm is looking to the Department of Justice as an example.
“Director Oh’s law enforcement pedigree will continue the recent tradition of infusing DOJ prosecution approaches into SEC practice,” Joseph said. “Securities law violators should not expect a hospitable environment, especially in light of the expanded statute of limitations and disgorgement authority granted earlier this year by Congress.”
Earlier in the week, Gensler filled several senior staff positions. One of them went to Prashant Yerramalli, who will continue as chief of staff, a role in which he served for Acting SEC Chair Allison Herren Lee. Gensler was confirmed by the Senate last week and sworn in on Saturday.
Among other SEC staff positions Yerramalli has held, he was senior counsel for the Asset Management Unit from September 2015 to December 2017.
Gensler’s personnel selections signal a focus on enforcement.
“Everyone expects him to be an enforcement-minded chair, and these early picks suggest that will be the case,” Wolfe said.
Joseph anticipates aggressive SEC enforcement under Gensler.
“Wrongdoers can be expected to be held accountable not just at the corporate level but at the individual level as well,” said Joseph, managing director at Kroll, a regulatory compliance consulting firm.
Among other staff appointments, Gensler tapped Heather Slavkin Corzo as policy director. Corzo, who will advise Gensler on rulemakings, is a former official at the AFL-CIO and a former senior fellow at Americans for Financial Reform.
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