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SEC names former U.S. prosecutor as enforcement chief

February 19, 2009 | 12:08 pm

Former federal prosecutor Robert Khuzami will take over as enforcement chief for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the embattled agency confirmed today.

From Bloomberg News:

SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro named Robert Khuzami, a former prosecutor of white-collar criminals and terrorists, her enforcement chief as she tries to restore confidence in the agency's ability to police financial markets.

Rob_khuzami Khuzami, Deutsche Bank's general counsel for the Americas, takes over the SEC's biggest division, the agency said today in a statement. Linda Thomsen, the unit's chief since 2005, said Feb. 9 she plans to return to private practice.

"Throughout his career, Rob has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to prosecuting wrongdoers and protecting citizens," Schapiro said. "As a former federal prosecutor, Rob is well-suited to lead the SEC's division of enforcement as we continue to crack down on those who would betray the trust of investors."

The SEC is reeling from criticism that it failed to detect Bernie Madoff's alleged $50-billion Ponzi scheme despite numerous tips over the years.

Khuzami, 52, served as a federal prosecutor for 11 years with the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. He prosecuted cases involving insider trading, Ponzi schemes, accounting and financial statement fraud, and organized crime infiltration of the securities markets.

Khuzami also prosecuted "Blind Sheik" Omar Ahmed Ali Abdel Rahman for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

"He always had really good judgment about bringing cases, and that's going to be helpful to the SEC," Christopher Clark, a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf in New York who worked with Khuzami as a prosecutor, told Bloomberg. "He knew what cases weren't worth bringing because they were weak or insignificant and which cases to go after for general deterrence purposes."

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Robert Khuzami. Credit: Deutsche Bank