New SEC Unit Beckons Muni Market Pros For Enforcement Roles

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Add municipal bond pros to the list of Wall Street specialists the SEC says it wants to hire.

After more than a year of saying it wanted to bring in people with hard-core market experience, the SEC is taking concrete steps toward that end. A newly revamped municipal and public pension fund enforcement unit is beginning to staff up, Elaine Greenberg, the new unit's head, told the Bond Buyer. Its hires are expected to include municipal debt traders and investment bankers.

A restructuring of the SEC's Enforcement Division last year created five specialty units, including one focused municipal securities and public pensions. Those groups formally got off the ground in January. Greenberg, an associate regional director in the agency's Philadelphia office, declined to say how big the group she oversees would be.

President Obama's budget for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 would enlarge Enforcement Division staff by a further 130 slots, or 10.6 percent. Separately, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations has indicated it's looking to bring on professionals with knowledge of trading strategies, risk management and quantitative analytics. Most SEC investigators are lawyers with at least a couple of years of experience in securities law.

Speaking at an attorneys' group conference in Washington last Friday, Greenberg said her unit will target certain market activities to bring solid cases against in a bid to send a message, as it invokes the SEC's antifraud authority.

The municipal unit's deputy chief is Mark Zehner, a regional municipal securities counsel based in Philadelphia.

Greenberg's mission got a vote of confidence from SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter, according to the Bond Buyer. Walter said she was "particularly pleased" that an enforcement unit was tasked specifically with monitoring the municipal bond market.

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