Two former prosecutors named to head U.S. SEC enforcement

WASHINGTON Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:57am IST

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has named two former federal prosecutors as co-heads of enforcement, in one of new agency chief Mary Jo White's first actions on the job.

George Canellos and Andrew Ceresney will serve as co-directors of the enforcement division, the SEC said on Monday. Canellos is the current acting director of enforcement.

White joined the SEC in early April after working a decade as a white-collar defense lawyer in New York and then as the federal prosecutor in Manhattan from 1993 to 2002. In the latter position, she supervised both Canellos and Ceresney, who served as prosecutors in the securities fraud task force and in other positions in that office.

Ceresney also followed White to the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, where they defended Wall Street banks and other companies and their executives, often working on cases together.

While expected, the appointments shed some light on how White will approach the agency's enforcement efforts, which she has promised will be "bold" and "unrelenting."

At the SEC, Canellos and Ceresney will face a wide portfolio of pending investigations and will have to make decisions on where to devote resources.

The agency is juggling its final push on cases tied to the financial crisis, with its focus on newer areas of interest, including conduct tied to high-frequency trading.

"George and Andrew are two of the best lawyers and finest people I know," White said in a statement.

Canellos said he was delighted to work with White and Ceresney again.

Ceresney echoed those sentiments. "I am excited to be charged with implementing Chairman White's mandate of bold and unrelenting enforcement and thrilled to be teaming again with George," he said.

The team already has ties to other regulators the SEC may end up working with. These include Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, who went to school with Ceresney and later worked with him.

"He is a thoughtful guy with an incredible work ethic," Lawsky told Reuters.

(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha in Washington and Karen Freifeld in New York; editing by John Wallace and Richard Chang)

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