The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Jennifer S. Leete has been named Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. Ms. Leete succeeds Antonia Chion, who retired from the agency in February 2020. In her new role, she will supervise approximately 50 attorneys, paralegals, and staff responsible for investigating a wide variety of securities law violations.
Ms. Leete joined the SEC’s Division of Enforcement as a staff attorney in 1999. In 2003, she became a Branch Chief and was promoted to Assistant Director in 2010. During her career with the SEC, Ms. Leete has investigated or supervised significant enforcement matters involving a variety of securities law violations, including cases against:
- three brokerage subsidiaries and former employees of ConvergEx Group that agreed to pay more than $107 million and admit wrongdoing to settle charges that they engaged in a fraudulent scheme that caused institutional clients to pay substantially higher amounts than disclosed for the execution of trading orders;
- a group of internet marketers who allegedly conned retirees and other retail investors out of tens of millions of dollars by creating and disseminating elaborate rags-to-riches videos to trick them into opening brokerage accounts and trading high-risk securities known as binary options;
- Ernst & Young, two of its partners, and the Chief Accounting Officer of an issuer client, where the SEC found they violated the auditor independence rules because of an inappropriate relationship between one of the partners and the CAO, one of a pair of SEC enforcement actions for auditor independence failures due to close personal relationships;
- Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, where the SEC found that the firm provided misleading information to clients in its retail wrap fee programs regarding trade execution services and transaction costs; and
- current and former brokerage subsidiaries of E*TRADE Financial Corporation, where the SEC found that those subsidiaries failed in their gatekeeper roles and improperly engaged in unregistered sales of microcap stocks on behalf of their customers.
“Jennifer has an outstanding track record of investigating and supervising impactful matters,” said Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “She is a strong leader and we are confident she will do an excellent job leading the staff in her new role.”
“Jennifer is highly respected for her thoughtful and pragmatic approach to addressing complicated issues, as well as for her long history of being a meaningful and effective mentor to many of the staff in the Division,” said Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We are thrilled to welcome her to the ranks of the Enforcement Division’s senior leaders.”
Ms. Leete said, “It is a great honor for me to take on this new role. I am excited to work with this very talented and dedicated team and to continue this group’s tradition of bringing high quality enforcement actions to protect investors and ensure the integrity of the securities markets.”
Prior to joining the SEC staff, Ms. Leete worked for four years as an associate at Baker & Botts L.L.P. and clerked for the Honorable Lawrence F. Rodowsky of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Ms. Leete earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 1990, and her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1993.