The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday named George S. Canellos as acting director of the commission’s Enforcement Division, taking over from Robert S. Khuzami, who is due to step down on Feb. 8, the SEC announced.
Canellos, currently the division’s deputy director, had reportedly been Khuzami’s preferred choice as a replacement. His position will be filled by David P. Bergers, currently head of the SEC’s regional office in Boston, the commission said in a simultaneous announcement. Both appointments are to take effect on Feb. 8.
The interim appointments would appear to continue the line of senior officials who like Khuzami were involved in the agency’s restructuring following the calamities of the global financial crisis and the failure to prevent the Ponzi scheme of the New York investor Bernard L. Madoff.
Bergers received the 2010 Stanely Sporkin Award for his role in reorganizing the Enforcement Division into five distinct units, which notably now include a unit devoted to enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the statute prohibiting foreign bribery, according to the Commission.
The SEC’s Boston office has overseen the enforcement action taken against Francisco Illarramendi – the admitted operator of a ponzi scheme who is accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to a Venezuelan official — and also investigated private equity firms for possible foreign bribery violations.
Canellos was director of the SEC’s New York regional office from 2009 and 2012 before becoming deputy director of the Enforcement Division. He was also an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York in the 1990s, where he served as chief of major crimes and prosecuted securities and commodities fraud cases.
Prior to joining the SEC, he was a litigation partner in private practice at the firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP for six years, according to the Commission.
“George’s proven intellectual abilities and creative approach to problem-solving have made him an extremely effective advocate for investors and make him ideally suited to serve as acting director,” SEC Chairman Elisse B. Walter was quoted as saying in a statement. “As deputy director, he helped to oversee a division that brought record numbers of enforcement actions and some of the most complex cases in the agency’s history.”
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