Christopher R. Conte, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s associate director of enforcement, who led enforcement actions against Dell, Comverse Technology and other companies over their accounting violations, plans to leave the agency after nearly 18 years.

Conte has also helped guide the SEC’s cases against Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Robertson Stephens involving unlawful IPO allocations.

Conte will join the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP in September as a partner in the firm's Washington, D.C., office.

“Chris’ extensive experience and deep commitment to investor protection made him a strong force in the effort to hold accountable those who violate the securities laws,” said SEC enforcement director Robert Khuzami in a statement. “After a long and fruitful career at the SEC, we wish Chris the very best.”

Conte, 49, joined the SEC as a staff attorney in November 1992. He was promoted to branch chief in 1997, to deputy assistant director in 1999, and to assistant director in 2000. He became an associate director in October 2006. Prior to joining the SEC, Conte was in private practice.

During his SEC tenure, Conte has overseen and conducted enforcement investigations involving illicit payments under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, manipulative short-selling practices, and insider trading by corporate insiders and other professionals. He also supervised enforcement actions involving violations by broker-dealers and investment advisers, including e-mail preservation and production failures, audit failures, violations of auditor independence rules, and violations of the SEC's proxy rules, tender offer rules, and rules requiring the reporting of securities holdings.

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