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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

SEC Picks New Enforcement Deputies

by: Armie Margaret Lee

The SEC has appointed George Curtis and Scott Friestad as the new deputy directors in the commission's enforcement division. The two succeed Peter Bresnan, who left the SEC in January, and Walter Ricciardi, who is leaving later this month.

Curtis, who joined the SEC in 2006, currently serves as regional director of the commission's Denver regional office. Friestad, a 13-year SEC vet, is currently associate director in the enforcement division in Washington, D.C.

Press Release

Washington, D.C., June 3, 2008 Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox and Linda Chatman Thomsen, Director of SEC's Division of Enforcement, announced today that George Curtis and Scott Friestad have been appointed as the new Deputy Directors in the Enforcement Division.

Mr. Curtis and Mr. Friestad will be filling positions vacated by Peter Bresnan, who left the agency for private practice in January of this year, and Walter Ricciardi, who yesterday announced his intention to leave the staff later this month. They will join Ms. Thomsen and the Division's Chief Counsel Joan McKown, who is assuming additional responsibilities in her role, in leading the Commission's nationwide enforcement program that last year set the SEC's all-time record for corporate penalty cases and brought the second-highest number of enforcement actions in SEC history.

"First and foremost, the SEC is a law enforcement agency. In all of the world, the SEC's Division of Enforcement is the gold standard for securities law enforcement. Today's appointments are further proof of that," said Chairman Cox. "All of these highly qualified professionals have proven track records as talented leaders in the world's most robust and effective investor protection program. Our nation's investors can look forward to the continued aggressive pursuit of illegal conduct wherever it occurs in our securities markets under the energetic leadership of this remarkable team."

Ms. Thomsen added, "We have important work to do and I know that Joan, George and Scott can and will provide the leadership, experience, intelligence, courage and character that is essential to getting the job done. It is a privilege to work with all of them."

Mr. Curtis is currently the Regional Director of the SEC's Denver Regional Office. He joined the Commission's staff in 2006 after 30 years in private practice. He received his B.A. degree from Fordham University in 1970, M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia in 1971 and 1973 respectively, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1976. Under Mr. Curtis's leadership, the Denver office brought 49 Commission-approved enforcement actions during the past year that addressed particularly complex, Commission-wide concerns. In one notable case, the SEC charged a registered representative in Albuquerque, N.M., for paying secret cash kickbacks to the former State Treasurer of New Mexico in exchange for obtaining municipal bond securities transactions with the New Mexico State Treasurer's Office.

"One of the things that attracted me to the Commission is its unstinting commitment to investor protection through vigorous, thoughtful and fair enforcement of the securities laws," Mr. Curtis said. "I am honored and humbled by the opportunity from Chairman Cox and Linda Thomsen to help lead the Enforcement Division's exemplary staff of professionals on behalf of hardworking Americans who depend on honesty and fairness in the securities markets."

Mr. Friestad is currently an Associate Director in the Division of Enforcement in Washington, D.C. He joined the Commission's staff as a staff attorney in 1995 from private practice. He received his B.B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Iowa in 1983 and 1986 respectively. Recently, Mr. Friestad spearheaded the Division's efforts in bringing fraud and market manipulation charges against a Wall Street trader within months of his intentionally spreading false rumors through instant messages about The Blackstone Group's acquisition of Alliance Data Systems (ADS) while he was selling ADS short. Mr. Friestad also helped lead SEC efforts in bringing one of the largest insider trading cases since the days of Ivan Boesky when the Commission charged 14 Wall Street individuals and entities in 2007 for trading on non-public information from UBS and Morgan Stanley.

"It is a distinct honor and privilege to help continue the Commission's and its Enforcement Division's tradition of effective investor protection through rigorous, firm and fair enforcement of the securities laws," Mr. Friestad said. "America's markets are the envy of the world thanks to the commitment of the Commission and its talented and dedicated enforcement staff."

Ms. McKown has held the Enforcement Division's Chief Counsel position since 1993. She joined the Commission's staff in 1986 and joined the Enforcement Division in 1987. She received her B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University in 1980 and her J.D. from Drake Law School in 1983. As Chief Counsel, she has been responsible for among other things the nationwide implementation of new securities legislation affecting enforcement including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Ms. McKown has received several esteemed awards for her dedicated work in the SEC's Enforcement Division, including the Commission's Stanley Sporkin Award in 1994 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2004.

"I look forward to continuing my long-time commitment to the Commission's mission of enforcing the federal securities laws for the protection of investors," Ms. McKown said. "I am fortunate to work alongside so many tremendous staff members nationwide on behalf of the Commission and the investors we serve."  

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