SEC enforcement co-chief steps down

Andrew Ceresney will lead the SEC’s enforcement division following the departure of George Canellos.

US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement co-director, George Canellos, will leave the agency later this month, according to a statement from the agency.

The SEC’s Enforcement Division will now be led solely by former Debevoise & Plimpton litigation attorney Andrew Ceresney, who was appointed enforcement co-director by SEC chair Mary Jo White in April.

It was expected that Canellos would eventually hand over complete control of the reins to Ceresney in the medium-term, according to an April New York Times report citing people briefed on the matter.

The SEC was unable to return a request for comment by press time.

Canellos held the position of enforcement director for 11 months after succeeding Robert Khuzami who left the agency in February. Canellos has not yet made future career plans, according to the SEC.

Prior to his role as enforcement chief, Canellos, had a three year spell as the SEC’s regional director in New York. During this tenure Canellos had responsibility for the largest concentration of SEC-registered financial institutions while in New York. This included more than 4,000 investment banks, investment advisers, broker-dealers, mutual funds and hedge funds, according to a SEC statement.

The SEC’s enforcement division is responsible for investigating possible violations of federal securities laws, including insider trading and fraud. It is the agency's largest unit, with more than 1,200 investigators, accountants, trial attorneys and other professionals.

Recently the division’s structure and operations was revamped to create five “specialized units” designed to keep the regulator up to speed with increasingly complicated market transactions and practices.

For private equity firms, the key takeaway from the overhaul was the creation of an “Asset Management” unit, which hired specialist investigators to oversee the private funds market.