Merrill Lynch & Co. is the latest company to call on a big name from the Securities and Exchange Commission to help bolster its credibility. The investment bank named David L. Kornblau, chief litigation counsel of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, as its head of regulatory affairs, effective in September.
Kornblau will oversee the company’s response to inquiries by securities regulators and law enforcement authorities worldwide, according to the commission.
High-level staffers at the SEC have often found their government service a lucrative stepping-stone to a prestigious private-industry position, since for the most part they emerge from the commission with the implicit image of high integrity.
Indeed, Rosemary Berkery, executive vice president and general counsel of Merrill Lynch, said in a statement: “David’s experience, integrity and understanding of regulatory issues will be assets for us as we seek to uphold the highest ethical standards for our business. We are pleased to welcome him to Merrill Lynch and look forward to him making significant contributions to our firm and the principled way we conduct our business.”
The regulator gives Kornblau credit for leading the enforcement division’s nationwide litigation program during a period of numerous corporate scandals and heightened enforcement activity, including cases against Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen, Wall Street research analysts, KPMG, Ernst & Young, and mutual funds.
Kornblau was an SEC trial attorney from 1995 to 2000. From 1987 to 1995, he was with the New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he handled a broad commercial and pro bono litigation docket, including working on the civil and criminal defense of Michael Milken.
Of course, Kornblau’s appointment comes on the heels of American International Group Inc.’s announcement that Arthur Levitt, who served as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1993 to 2001, will become as a special advisor to AIG’s board of directors and its nominating and corporate governance committee.
In his new position, Levitt will advise the committee on potential nominees for election to the board, as well as board procedures, structure, and governance issues.