New SEC Whistleblower Program to Benefit from SEC’s Appointment of New Enforcement Official?

The SEC has just announced that current senior advisor to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, Stephen L. Cohen, has been named an Associate Director of the Division of Enforcement.

We hope this is good news for the nascent SEC Whistleblower Program. The SEC recently announced that its delaying creation of an SEC Whistleblower Office for budget reasons.

Steve Cohen has advised Chairman Schapiro on a number of issues including the SEC Whistleblower program, which I have discussed with him briefly earlier this year.

Coincidentally, the announcement came on yesterday’s deadline for comments on the SEC’s proposed rules for SEC whistleblowers, which must be substantially revamped so as not to defeat Congress’ purpose by discouraging meaningful whistleblowers from coming forward. We have submitted our own comments to the SEC on its proposed whistleblower rules, and will discuss later others’ comments here. See our comments

The SEC’s press release is reprinted below:

Stephen L. Cohen Named Associate Director in SEC Division of Enforcement

Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2010 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Stephen L. Cohen has been appointed as an Associate Director of the Division of Enforcement, a position in which he will assist in planning and directing the agency’s enforcement efforts.

Mr. Cohen has spent the past two years as Senior Advisor to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro. He provided counsel on a wide range of legal and policy matters, including enforcement and compliance issues and various aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act such as the whistleblower legislation and rulemaking. Mr. Cohen also worked on a variety of special projects, such as leading the agency-wide initiative to improve the handling of tips, complaints and referrals and the agency’s Consolidated Audit Trail proposal.

“The Enforcement Division will benefit greatly from Steve’s intelligence, judgment, and determination as well as his comprehensive understanding of our securities laws and his grasp on the way the Division functions,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We are excited that he has agreed to return to the Division and take on this new challenge.”

Mr. Cohen said, “I am looking forward to the privilege of once again working alongside the dedicated and talented staff in the Enforcement Division.”

Mr. Cohen is filling the Associate Director position previously held by Christopher Conte, who left the agency in September.

Mr. Cohen joined the SEC as an Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel in the Division of Enforcement in 2004, and worked on investigations and litigation involving accounting fraud, market manipulation, offering fraud, insider trading, and other violations, including cases involving auditors, broker-dealers, investment advisers, and self-regulatory organizations.

Before coming to the SEC, Mr. Cohen was associated with the Washington, D.C., office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner where his practice primarily involved complex commercial litigation. He also served as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he was part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Mr. Cohen also clerked for the Honorable Ursula Ungaro in the Southern District of Florida.

Steve received his JD magna cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Boston University.

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