Robert Khuzami to Leave SEC as Its Enforcement Director

Robert Khuzami plans to leave the Securities and Exchange Commission after serving as its enforcement director for four years, the SEC announced this week.

Khuzami’s last day will likely be sometime around the end of January, an SEC spokesman said.

Under the leadership of Khuzami, who was named enforcement director in 2009 by former SEC chairman Mary Schapiro, the commission’s enforcement division brought charges against more than 150 entities and individuals, including 65 corporate officers, according to an SEC release.

Those cases resulted in $2.68 billion in financial relief for investors, the SEC said.

Defendants in the cases included firms like Goldman Sachs & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse Group, Citigroup Inc., State Street Corp., Wachovia, now Wells Fargo & Co., and The Charles Schwab Corp., as well as individuals at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Countrywide, now a division of Bank of America.

Khuzami’s division also cracked down on insider trading, the SEC said. Notable investigations include that of now-defunct Galleon Group and its former head Raj Rajaratnam, which resulted in charges against 29 defendants.

The SEC also pursued a record 735 enforcement actions in fiscal-year 2011 and 734 in fiscal-year 2012, the SEC said.

Khuzami helped created “specialized prosecution units” that concentrated on municipal securities and public pensions, investment advisors, private funds, large-scale trading, market abuse, mortgage products and bribery.

Also during Khuzami’s time, the SEC created a “whistleblower” program, which rewards individuals for useful information, and a cooperation program, which uses non-prosecution and other agreements to encourage individuals and companies to cooperate with investigations.

Khuzami succeeded former enforcement director Linda Chatman Thomsen.

He was hired in 2009 after Schapiro vowed to overhaul the regulator’s enforcement division following its perceived slow response to the financial crisis and its inability to detect Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Before joining the SEC, Khuzami was general counsel for Deutsche Bank Americas.

Earlier, he worked for 11 years as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he was also chief of the securities and commodities fraud task force.

He prosecuted securities and white-collar criminals on charges related to insider trading, Ponzi schemes, fraud and organized securities crime.

Khuzami also prosecuted “Blind Sheik” Omar Ahmed Ali Abdel Rahman and nine other defendants for their involvement in an international terrorist organization responsible for, among other things, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

Earlier, he was a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, in Kansas City, Mo.