SEC Enforcement Chief Ceresney Stepping Down

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The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday that its enforcement director, Andrew J. Ceresney, plans to leave the SEC by the end of the year.

Ceresney re-focused the SEC’s enforcement unit on pursuing accounting and financial fraud cases after it was sidetracked by the 2008 financial crisis on going after mortgage fraud, Ponzi schemes and similar abuses. He spent nearly four years leading the enforcement division, spearheading new approaches to strengthen investigative and litigation practices. Under Ceresney, the SEC enforcement division also brought significant cases across the entire securities industry, achieving record numbers of enforcement actions and monetary penalties.

In the area of financial reporting, the division filed more than 370 issuer reporting and disclosure cases and more than 210 accountant-related Rule 102(e) proceedings, including fraud charges against Weatherford International and two senior executives for misstating the company’s tax reserves, along with fraud charges against Computer Sciences Corporation and CSC’s former executives for manipulating financial results and concealing significant problems with a large and high-profile contract. In addition, Ceresney went after major auditing firms, including proceedings against BDO USA and five of its partners, Grant Thornton LLP and two of its partners, and Ernst & Young LLP and two of its partners, for professional failures in audits of clients that faced SEC actions.

“I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together—our innovative and wide-ranging actions have protected investors, deterred misconduct, and sent the message that the SEC is and always must be the tough cop on the financial beat,” Ceresney said in a statement.

He thanked his boss, SEC chair Mary Jo White, who also plans to step down before the Trump administration takes office.

“Under Andrew’s strong leadership, the Enforcement Division took its already robust enforcement program to an even higher level, achieving unprecedented results, including a record number of enforcement actions, first-of-their-kind cases and a first ever admissions policy for a civil law enforcement agency,” White said in a statement. “Andrew’s tremendous work ethic, commitment to do what is right, and deep dedication to his entire team have made him an incredibly effective leader.”

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