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Potential conflicts of interest arise at the SEC

First Published 25th August 2017

Reuters reports that two lawyers appointed to senior roles at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) both still have ties to previous employers and stock holdings that could present potential conflicts of interest.

Steve Peikin, Co-Head of Enforcement, and William Hinman, Director of Corporate Finance, both come from law firms that represent a number of large banks, whose activties are in part governed by the SEC. Indeed, the firm at which Peikin worked, Sullivan & Cromwell, represents Wells Fargo which is currently under investigation by the SEC for its sales tactics. As co-head, Peikin would be able to recuse himself from the case.

Such conflicts of interest are particularly sensitive following the global financial crisis (GFC). Former Attorney General Eric Holder, responsible in part for prosecuting banks in the aftermath of the GFC, said that some are "so large" that they are "difficult to prosecute". Following his time as attorney general, Holder then returned to work for his previous employer, Covington & Burling, which represents banks such as Bank of America, Citigroup, JPM Chase and Morgan Stanley.

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