The head of the New York attorney general’s investor protection bureau Katherine Milgram is leaving to take a position as head of regulatory affairs and chief of staff to the chief legal counsel at Guardian Life Insurance Co., according to the attorney general’s office.
Milgram, who has been the head of the bureau since February 2016, will be succeeded by chief of the enforcement section, Cynthia Hanawalt, according to the office. The bureau is responsible for enforcement under New York’s Martin Act, a powerful securities anti-fraud law that gives the attorney general’s office broad law enforcement powers.
“It was an honor to lead [the] Investor Protection Bureau, and I am proud of the work my team and I did to protect New Yorkers and all investors over the past five years,” Milgram said in a statement. “I am thrilled to be joining Guardian, a mutual company driven by strong values and with a long history of demonstrating an impressive commitment to its policyholders and customers.”
During her time leading the bureau, which includes her time as deputy chief two years prior, Milgram oversaw numerous high-profile actions against some of the biggest financial companies in the world. She also worked to reinvigorate what she has described as the core responsibility of the bureau: protecting Main Street investors.
In March, the bureau’s efforts led Bank of America Merrill Lynch to a $42 million penalty with New York sate to settle allegations of fraudulent electronic services practices conducted by the bank’s investment arm. The record-breaking amount came after the firm’s “masking” practices were investigated under the Martin Act.
Milgram also oversaw the state’s investigation into Deutsche Bank’s electronic equities order routing services, known as its “Dark Pool Ranking Model.” The bank allegedly did not inform its clients that the system was not working properly when it was discovered, resulting in a pair of settlements with the attorney general’s office and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission that added up to $37 million.
The office also credits Milgram with leading efforts to help some of the most vulnerable investors. She restarted the bureau’s investor education program that partners with industry groups and other agencies to expand its reach, while also overseeing the launch of an intervention program to respond to non-fraud complaints the bureau receives.
Guardian Life did not respond to a request for comment.
Hanawalt’s transition into the chief role provides considerable continuity for the bureau, as she’s been involved in a number of the major actions it’s taken, including the Bank of America Merrill Lynch settlement. As head of the bureau’s enforcement team for just over a year, Hanawalt has helped lead efforts to recover $772 million on behalf of New York investors, according to the attorney general’s office.
She also has led the office’s virtual markets integrity initiative, launched in April, as part of the office’s ongoing cryptocurrency oversight efforts. That same month the office released a report on mutual fund fees after an investigation led by Hanawalt, which resulted in an agreement with 13 firms to provide greater public disclosure for retail investors.
“Amidst federal retreat and congressional attack on the state laws protecting our citizens, there could not be a more important moment for energetic state securities work,” Hanawalt said in a statement.
— Read New York State Final Best Interest Regs Cover Life As Well As Annuities, on ThinkAdvisor.