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Ex-SEC Enforcement Chief Khuzami Takes Leadership Role at Guggenheim Partners

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Robert Khuzami Robert Khuzami. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Opting against Big Law after his latest high-profile stint in government, Robert Khuzami has joined asset manager and investment bank Guggenheim Partners, one of his former clients.

Khuzami, a former director of the SEC’s enforcement division, Kirkland & Ellis partner and senior in-house lawyer at Deutsche Bank, was most recently the right-hand man to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan.

Guggenheim Partners announced Tuesday morning he was joining the firm, effective immediately, as a managing partner and chief legal officer. Guggenheim said Khuzami will join the senior leadership group that manages Guggenheim and guides its future growth. He will focus on Guggenheim’s “strategic and business activities while also supervising the firm’s legal, regulatory and compliance activities,” the firm said.

Khuzami did not respond to a request for comment.

Discussions over Khuzami’s next move have been swirling in the business and legal community this summer. Privately, sources said this summer that he was not likely to go back to a law firm.

After a high-profile career at the SEC, Khuzami from 2013 to 2018 was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, which had reportedly recruited him after a bidding war among big firms. At Kirkland, he advised multiple financial services firms, including the investment arm of Guggenheim Partners, according to a financial disclosure.

Khuzami reported earning $11.1 million in Kirkland partnership income in about a year’s span, according to the disclosure, released in 2018 when he left Kirkland to join the Southern District of New York as a deputy U.S. attorney to Berman.

During his 15-month tenure in the SDNY post, he oversaw the criminal case against President’s Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, among other high-profile matters.

Berman, in announcing that Khuzami would leave the Southern District office in April 2019, said Khuzami has been commuting weekly from Washington, D.C., for the SDNY job and he “decided to return home to his family.”

Guggenheim provides asset management, investment banking and other financial advisory services. The Wall Street Journal earlier this year described the firm as a sprawling financial conglomerate with more than $265 billion in assets and interests ranging from investment management to stock-trading and merger advice.

Khuzami’s latest employer has had its run-ins with the SEC. In August 2015, the SEC announced that the investment arm of Guggenheim Partners agreed to settle charges it breached its fiduciary duty by failing to disclose a $50 million loan that one of its senior executives received from an advisory client.

More recently, the SEC examined a real estate transaction and a series of other deals linked to the company’s senior management.

Outside of his work in government, Khuzami held senior in-house legal roles at Deutsche Bank from 2002 to 2009.

In a statement, Mark Walter, Guggenheim’s CEO, said Khuzami’s “career in both private and public service makes him ideal for his new role at Guggenheim and we welcome him to our firm.”

In his own statement released Tuesday, Khuzami said, “as a private-sector lawyer, I learned firsthand of the firm’s integrity and commitment to best-in-class business practices and fidelity to its clients. I eagerly look forward to continuing that and helping to manage the firm’s future trajectory.”

—Jack Newsham contributed to this report.