Two high-level lawyers in the Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of Enforcement have left the agency to return to private practice.
George Curtis, who previously served as deputy director of the Enforcement Division, returned to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher yesterday as a partner in the securities enforcement practice. He will work from the firm's Denver and Washington offices. Prior to his three-year stint at the SEC, Curtis had been with Gibson Dunn for more than 30 years.
Also yesterday, Luis Mejia started work in DLA Piper's securities enforcement and litigation practices in the Washington office. Mejia, who joined the firm as a partner, has spent the past 10 years at the SEC, rising to the position of chief litigation counsel of the Enforcement Division. Before joining the agency, Mejia was a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Curtis said there is no connection between his and Mejia’s decision to leave. Mejia echoed Curtis on that point, saying he has two children about to enter college and returning to the private sector “was a great opportunity at a great time.”
In separate interviews, Curtis and Mejia said they expect the SEC’s enforcement efforts to increase under the Obama administration. Curtis said, “We’re likely to see a more creative focus on penalties that haven’t been used in recent times and even an increase of new guidelines that haven’t been there before.” He said those penalties include nonprosecution agreements, industry-wide enforcement programs, and programs tailored to specific companies.
Mejia said, “The SEC will be continuing to look at issues related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, hedge funds, insider trading, and allegations of financial fraud.”