White to Direct SEC Enforcement to New Areas

With financial crisis cases mostly over, new chairman may target accounting fraud, high-frequency trading.

Mary Jo White, the first former prosecutor to serve as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, has pledged to run a “bold and unrelenting” enforcement program at the agency charged with regulating Wall Street.

With financial crisis cases mostly done and some of the biggest insider-trading cases in history closed, White will have to chart a course into new areas to keep that pledge.

Accounting Fraud

George Canellos, acting head of the division, said in February that investigators are looking into new ways of detecting accounting fraud, an area that has seen fewer enforcement actions in recent years. James Cox, a securities law professor at Duke University, said scrutiny of auditors and accountants is overdue.

Possible Recusals

After taking office, Ceresney and White will both be expected to recuse themselves in cases involving many of Wall Street’s biggest players, since those firms were often clients at Debevoise. To address this, Ceresney may share the enforcement director role with acting chief Canellos for as long as a year, the people familiar with the matter said.

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