The institutionalized world of some of the more established national regulators is such that often senior officials conduct long periods of service.
Such is the case for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Chief of Enforcement Kenneth Lench, who announced his imminent departure from his current position at the end of this month, in order to make the move into the private sector.
Pro Public Interest and Investor Protection
Mr. Lench has served as head of the Structured and New Products Unit since its inception in January 2010 as the final leadership role in his career at the SEC spanning over two decades.
This particular unit conducts investigations into complex financial instruments including asset-backed and derivative securities, and has 45 staff in eight SEC offices across the country.
During Mr. Lench’s tenure, the unit filed significant enforcement actions against financial services firms that violated federal United States securities laws during the financial crisis relating to the structuring, marketing, and sale of collateralized debt obligations (CDO) and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).
The CDO and RMBS cases filed under Mr. Lench’s leadership include Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan (CDO case and RMBS case),Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Mizuho, Wells Fargo/Wachovia, Option One, Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., and RBC Capital Markets. These cases provide for approximately $1.7 billion in financial recovery for harmed investors.
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George S. Canellos, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement made a statement on Mr. Lench’s achievements at the SEC: ““Ken’s determination to always seek the right answers and his devotion to protecting investors by working tirelessly with his staff and colleagues made everyone around him better”.
“The Enforcement Division is stronger today because of Ken’s unwavering leadership” he said.
Mr. Lench said, “It has been a privilege to lead such a talented and dedicated team of professionals committed to uncovering wrongdoing in our securities markets. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on significant and challenging cases on behalf of our nation’s investors.”
A Comprehensive Career
Mr. Lench joined the SEC’s Enforcement Division as a staff attorney in 1990. He was promoted to branch chief in 1995, assistant chief counsel in 2000, and assistant director in 2004. As an assistant director, Mr. Lench spearheaded the SEC’s major auction rates securities settlements with a number of major broker-dealer firms that provided more than $60 billion in liquidity to tens of thousands of investors.
He also led significant investigations into matters involving financial and accounting fraud, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, and hedge fund fraud cases. These include actions against Ernst & Young, Electronic Data Systems, Bally Total Fitness,General Motors, Delphi, United Rentals, Terex, Comerica, Delta & Pine Land,Beacon Hill Asset Management, Amaranth Advisors, and Bank of America.
Besides serving in the Enforcement Division, Mr. Lench was in the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance from 1999 to 2000.
He reviewed SEC registration statements, proxy materials, and periodic reports involving initial public offerings, secondary offerings, tender offers, mergers and acquisitions, going private transactions, shelf offerings, and proxy contests.
Mr. Lench received his B.A. from Brandeis University and his J.D. from Boston University School of Law, and was in private practice prior to his arrival at the SEC, a direction which he will resume in his next role.