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SEC Enforcement Chief to Step Down at Year End; Praises Insider Trading Decision, Whistleblower Program in Interview

The SEC announced on December 8, 2016 that Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the Division of Enforcement, will leave the agency by year end.  According to the SEC’s announcement, during Ceresney’s nearly four years in his post, “the Commission filed more than 2,850 enforcement actions and obtained judgments and orders totaling more than $13.8 billion in monetary sanctions.  The SEC also charged over 3,300 companies and over 2,700 individuals, including many CEOs, CFOs, and other senior corporate officers.”  Ceresney, in an interview with Politico Pro, discussed his term at the agency among other topics. He lauded the recent Supreme Court ruling in Salman v. United States, which affirmed that providing inside information as a gift to a close friend or family member is enough to satisfy the “personal benefit” element of tipper/tippee insider trading. Ceresney told Politico Pro that the SEC will continue to be aggressive in its pursuit of insider trading cases. Ceresney also discussed areas where enforcement activity is likely to increase, specifically pointing to cybersecurity and municipal securities cases. He praised the SEC’s whistleblower program and said that the program will continue to be an important source for cases and investigations. Upon Ceresney’s departure, Stephanie Avakian, deputy director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, will become the acting director.