Risk & Compliance

SEC Taps New Jersey AG as Enforcement Chief

Gurbir Grewal "has the ideal combination of experience, values, and leadership ability to helm the Enforcement Division at this critical time.”
Matthew HellerJune 30, 2021

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has turned to a veteran prosecutor to police Wall Street, naming New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as director of its enforcement unit.

The appointment of Grewal —  the nation’s first Sikh state attorney general — follows the brief tenure of Alex Oh, a former Wall Street attorney who resigned as head of the division of enforcement in April after only a few days on the job.

Gurbir Grewal

“[Grewal] has had a distinguished career as New Jersey’s chief law enforcement officer and as a prosecutor at both the local and federal levels,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a news release. “He has the ideal combination of experience, values, and leadership ability to helm the enforcement division at this critical time.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, he was appointed “following criticism from some progressives that the SEC has been too quick in the past to choose lawyers with strong Wall Street ties to police the financial industry.”

“Critics of what has been called the revolving door between government, law firms, and the financial industry say it feeds conventional thinking about how to investigate and resolve cases against banks and public companies,” the Journal said.

Before becoming New Jersey attorney general in 2018, Grewal served as the top law enforcement official in Bergen County, N.J., and as an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey, where he led the office’s economic crimes unit.

In the private sector, he worked at law firm Howrey LLP from 1999 to 2004 and from 2008 to 2010, counseling clients on securities, antitrust, and foreign bribery matters.

As New Jersey’s AG, Grewal pushed progressive issues, from prosecuting automobile lenders and credit card companies to going after allegedly discriminatory practices. He also repeatedly sued the Trump administration, targeted cryptocurrency fraud, and led the largest known prosecution of a data breach.

Commenting on his move to the SEC, Grewal thanked Governor Phil Murphy “for the opportunity to serve the people of New Jersey” and said he was “excited to get to work with the talented team of public servants to uncover and prosecute misconduct and protect investors.”

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