As Schapiro’s Departure Nears, Other SEC Execs Resign

Who's leaving? Two directors, as well as the general counsel

SEC headquarters in Washington. (Photo: AP) SEC headquarters in Washington. (Photo: AP)

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Is SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro’s departure this month prompting other high-profile officials to leave the agency?

Within the last two days, three top executives at the agency have announced their planned departures: Robert Cook, of the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets; Meredith Cross, who heads the Division of Corporation Finance; and the agency’s general counsel, Mark Cahn.

Cook and Cahn announced their planned departures on Wednesday, while Cross said she was leaving on Tuesday. While no departure time was announced for Cook, the SEC says that Cook will remain with the commission for a “transitional period” in order to help ensure continuity in the division’s functions. Cross, however, plans to depart by year-end and return to the private sector, as does Cahn, who will also return to the private sector.

Since joining the SEC in January 2010, Cook has led the division’s broad regulatory policy program that includes oversight of securities exchanges and markets, broker-dealers, clearing agencies, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Cook has also overseen the implementation of significant rulemaking and other responsibilities assigned to the division under the Dodd-Frank Act and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act.

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Cross has served as the Division of Corporation Finance’s director since June 2009. She joined Schapiro’s senior leadership team in the wake of the financial crisis, and is credited with playing a key role in the chairwoman’s initiatives to rebuild the agency’s credibility, improve overall operations at the SEC and build a more resilient, integrated program designed to foresee and reduce the likelihood of future crises in the securities markets.

Cahn has served as the SEC’s general counsel since February 2011 and counseled the commission on issues ranging from enforcement actions, rulemakings, other administrative proceedings, and appeals throughout the country and in the Supreme Court. Prior to becoming general counsel, Cahn served as the SEC’s deputy general counsel for two years.

Cahn is credited with serving as the SEC’s chief legal officer during a period of “unprecedented enforcement and regulatory activity,” the SEC says, and he was “deeply involved” in developing the commission’s rules to establish a Whistleblower Program.

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