Co-director of SEC enforcement division to step down

George Canellos was instrumental in many recent high-profile SEC cases

George Canellos

After helping lead the agency’s nationwide enforcement efforts during two of its most productive years in the fallout from the financial crisis, the co-director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) enforcement division is stepping down.

George Canellos, who was instrumental in numerous structural and enforcement policy changes as well as many high-profile cases related to the credit crisis and insider trading, helped lead the agency’s nationwide enforcement efforts while serving as deputy director and co-director of the enforcement division for more than four years.

Canellos, who joined the SEC in July 2009 as director of the New York Regional Office, has not yet announced future career plans. Andrew Ceresney, who came on board in April as co-director, will continue to serve as director of the SEC’s enforcement division.

Among the high-profile cases Canellos handled include actions against Raj Rajaratnam and more than 30 others associated with New York-based hedge fund advisory firm Galleon Management LP for widespread and repeated insider trading in the securities of 15 companies generating illicit profits totaling more than $96 million. He also led actions against hedge fund managers associated with SAC Capital for perpetrating the most profitable insider-trading scheme in history and against SAC Capital’s founder Steven A. Cohen for allegedly failing reasonably to supervise those fund managers.

Most recently, he led actions against J.P. Morgan Securities, Credit Suisse Securities (USA), RBS Securities and Bank of America for misleading investors in offerings of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), resulting in almost $570 million in sanctions and actions for fraud against two JPMorgan traders for concealing hundreds of millions of dollars of losses on the so-called “London Whale” derivatives trades and against JPMorgan Chase for misstating its financial results and lacking effective internal controls to detect and prevent its traders from fraudulently overvaluing investments.

After being named director of the New York office, Canellos was also instrumental in the SEC’s response to the revelation of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, overseeing investigations and fraud charges against 22 individuals and entities. 

SEC Chair Mary Jo White praised Canellos for his work at the agency as an integral part of the SEC’s recent enforcement actions.

“He helped to improve coordination between the enforcement and exam programs, streamline procedures to expedite investigations, and better integrate our investigative and trial functions,” White said in a statement. “Every day, he brought to work an intense enthusiasm for our mission, extraordinary intellect and experience, and a total commitment to fairness and the public interest.”


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Erin E. Harrison

Erin E. Harrison is the Editor in Chief of InsideCounsel magazine. Harrison’s professional background includes extensive expertise in both print and online media, highlighted by...

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