The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Robert W. Cook, Director of the SEC's Division of Trading and Markets, plans to leave the agency.
Since joining the SEC in January 2010, Mr. Cook has led the Division's broad regulatory policy program that includes oversight of securities exchanges and markets, broker-dealers, clearing agencies, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Mr. Cook has overseen the implementation of significant rulemaking and other responsibilities assigned to the Division under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act.
"Robert provided extraordinary counsel and worked tirelessly as we put in place measures that have helped to bolster our markets," said SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro. "With his deep experience across a range of issues, he has helped us lay the groundwork for an entirely new and comprehensive regulatory regime for derivatives."
Mr. Cook said, "I am honored to have worked with my colleagues in the Division of Trading and Markets and others throughout the agency on so many different initiatives to improve our markets and protect investors. It has been a period of unprecedented productivity for the Division, and I am proud of the staff's hard work and many accomplishments. I would like to thank Chairman Schapiro and the other Commissioners for the opportunity to serve them and the agency. It is an experience for which I will always be grateful."
Mr. Cook, 47, oversaw several significant market structure initiatives including the adoption of enhanced risk controls for traders with access to the securities markets, large trader registration and reporting rules, and consolidated audit trail rules. He also directed the staff's ongoing review of equity market structure and its analysis of the "Flash Crash" of May 6, 2010, as well as its work on various regulatory responses such as single-stock circuit breakers, more transparent clearly erroneous trade break rules, updated market-wide circuit breakers, and the limit-up/limit-down volatility moderation mechanism.
Mr. Cook also supervised more than 30 other major rulemaking initiatives and studies authorized or mandated by Dodd-Frank or the JOBS Act, including the development of a new regulatory regime for security-based swaps under Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, Mr. Cook oversaw various projects related to the Chairman's work on the Financial Stability Oversight Council.
In order to support the increasing amount and complexity of the Division's responsibilities, Mr. Cook helped to improve the Division's organization and operations. As part of this effort, he oversaw a significant increase in the Division's staff to approximately 250 attorneys, financial economists and analysts, accountants, and others. The Division also implemented enhanced procedures for the review of the more than 2,000 proposed rule changes and other filings received annually from self-regulatory organizations.
Mr. Cook will remain with the Commission for a transitional period in order to help ensure continuity in the Division's functions.
Prior to arriving at the SEC, Mr. Cook was a partner at the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. He earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and an A.B. from Harvard College.
Separately, The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that General Counsel Mark D. Cahn will leave the agency at the end of the year to return to the private sector.
Mr. Cahn has served as the SEC's General Counsel since February 2011 and counseled the Commission on issues ranging from enforcement actions, rulemakings, other administrative proceedings, and appeals throughout the country and in the Supreme Court. Prior to becoming General Counsel, Mr. Cahn served as the SEC's Deputy General Counsel for two years.
"Mark has always provided the Commission clear and thoughtful legal advice as we set out to better protect investors," said SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro. "The Commission has benefited greatly from his careful guidance and his good judgment."
"It has been a unique privilege to have worked at the Commission during such an extraordinary period of change in the financial and regulatory arena," said Mr. Cahn. "I am particularly honored to have worked alongside Chairman Schapiro and the other Commissioners on so many important issues that affect investors every day, and I thank them for that opportunity."
Mr. Cahn served as the SEC's chief legal officer during a period of unprecedented enforcement and regulatory activity. He was deeply involved in developing the Commission's rules to establish a Whistleblower Program. The General Counsel's office also provided advice on every rulemaking release that came before the Commission, including rules proposed and adopted pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Mr. Cahn's tenure as General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel coincided with a period of significant appellate activity. This included the successful defense of SEC enforcement actions in the Courts of Appeals and involvement as amicus in Supreme Court cases addressing a variety of issues, including mutual fund advisory fees (Jones v. Harris Associates), the statute of limitations in securities litigation (Merck & Co., Inc. v. Reynolds), and pleading and proof requirements in securities fraud actions (Matrixx Initiatives v. Siracusano and Erica P. John Fund v. Halliburton).
"The rewards of public service are many, but none as great as the opportunity to work with so many dedicated professionals," Mr. Cahn added. "I want particularly to express my profound appreciation to the exceptional lawyers who served with me in the Office of the General Counsel. Every day I was the beneficiary of their extraordinary talents."
Prior to joining the SEC in 2009, Mr. Cahn was a partner at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. Mr. Cahn began his legal career as law clerk to Judge Herbert J. Stern of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and to Judge John J. Gibbons, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He graduated from Tufts University in 1983 and from Yale Law School in 1986.