The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that Acting Director of the Division of Enforcement Stephanie Avakian and former federal prosecutor Steven Peikin have been named Co-Directors of the Division of Enforcement. The SEC’s Division of Enforcement is the agency’s largest unit with more than 1,200 investigators, attorneys, and more.
Avakian was named Acting Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement in December 2016 after serving as Deputy Director of the Division since June 2014. Before being named Deputy Director, Avakian was a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, where she served as a vice chair of the firm’s securities practice and represented financial institutions, public companies, boards, and individuals in a broad range of investigations and other matters before the SEC and other agencies. Avakian previously worked in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement as a branch chief in the New York Regional Office, and later served as counsel to former SEC Commissioner Paul Carey.
Peikin served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He was Chief of the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, where he supervised some of the nation’s highest profile prosecutions of accounting fraud, insider trading, market manipulation, and abuses in the foreign exchange market. As a prosecutor, Peikin also personally investigated and prosecuted a wide variety of securities, commodities, and other investment fraud schemes, as well as other crimes.
Most recently, Peikin was Managing Partner of Sullivan & Cromwell’s Criminal Defense and Investigations Group. His practice focused on white-collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement, and internal investigations.
SEC Chair Jay Clayton was a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell before he joined the Commission thus there is clearly an established relationship between Clayton and Peikin. The SEC stated that Peikin will split his time between the SEC’s headquarters and the agency’s New York Regional Office.
“There is no place for bad actors in our capital markets, particularly those that prey on investors and undermine confidence in our economy,” commented Chairman Jay Clayton. “Stephanie and Steve will aggressively police our capital markets and enforce our nation’s securities laws as Co-Directors of the Division of Enforcement. They have each demonstrated market knowledge, impeccable character, and commitment to public service, and I am confident their combined talents and experience will enable them to effectively lead the Division going forward.”