The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Joel R. Levin, the Director of its Chicago Regional Office, will leave the agency at the end of May.
Mr. Levin has served as Director of the Chicago office since May 2018, overseeing the agency’s second-largest regional office of more than 260 attorneys, accountants, investigators, securities compliance examiners and other personnel involved in the investigation and prosecution of enforcement actions and the performance of compliance examinations. The nine-state region overseen by the Chicago office is home to roughly 20 percent of the nation’s population, and exercises jurisdiction over more than 2,000 investment advisers and investment companies with over $10 trillion in assets under management, and over 500 broker-dealers with more than 35,000 branch offices.
“Throughout his tenure, Joel has demonstrated an abiding commitment to every aspect of the work of the Chicago Regional Office, including examining registrants, holding wrongdoers accountable, and educating the investing public. Joel can be very proud of all that our Chicago office staff has accomplished on behalf of investors under his strong leadership,” said SEC Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee.
“Joel was a tireless advocate for investor protection during his time as Director of the Chicago Regional Office,” said Peter B. Driscoll, Director of the SEC’s Division of Examinations. “Joel’s outreach efforts along with his experience and leadership resulted in a significant impact for the benefit of investors in the Chicago region. He will be missed.”
“For the last three years, Joel has worked day in and day out together with his colleagues in the Chicago Regional Office to protect investors and our markets. His dedication to our mission and public service, combined with his work ethic, allowed him to achieve tremendous results even in the face of significant challenges like the government shutdown and the pandemic,” said Melissa R. Hodgman, Acting Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Joel’s thoughtful guidance and commitment to his colleagues in Chicago and across the Commission will be missed.”
Mr. Levin said, “It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the Director of the Chicago office. I have the highest admiration and respect for the incredibly talented and dedicated public servants in our office who have worked tirelessly, even in the face of countless challenges during the pandemic, to protect retail investors. I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the last three years.”
Under Mr. Levin’s leadership, the Chicago Regional Office has brought numerous groundbreaking enforcement actions that have protected Main Street investors and involved a variety of securities law violations, including:
- Charged Volkswagen AG, two subsidiaries, and VW’s former CEO with defrauding investors when VW raised billions of dollars through corporate bond and fixed income offerings while making a series of deceptive claims about the environmental impact of the company’s “clean diesel” fleet.
- Charged truckload freight company Celadon Group with accounting fraud for its scheme to avoid recognizing at least $20 million in impairment charges by selling and buying used trucks at artificially inflated prices.
- Brought the first-ever case against a broker-dealer and investment adviser for violations of the Commission’s Identity Theft Red Flag Rule.
- Brought actions against four Transamerica affiliates for using faulty investment models in mutual funds and managed portfolios, returning nearly $100 million to harmed investors.
- Jointly with the CFTC, held accountable the Options Clearing Corporation for failures relating to financial risk management, operational requirements, and information-systems security.
- Cases arising from the Commission’s Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative involving investment advisers that failed to disclose conflicts of interest and/or selected higher-cost mutual fund share classes when other lower-cost share classes of the same mutual fund were available to clients.
During Mr. Levin’s tenure, the examinations staff in Chicago conducted hundreds of examinations of investment advisers, investment companies and broker-dealers in furtherance of the SEC’s mission to protect retail investors, and made numerous referrals that resulted in successful enforcement actions.
As Director, Mr. Levin reinvigorated the Chicago office’s outreach efforts to retail investors, including seniors, educators, military and immigrant communities to help promote financial literacy and protect against investment fraud schemes. Mr. Levin also actively promoted and enhanced the Chicago office’s efforts in furtherance of diversity and inclusion.
Before his appointment as Regional Director, Mr. Levin was a federal prosecutor for over 30 years. From 2014 to 2018, he served as the First Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, and he also served as the Acting U.S. Attorney in that District from March to November 2017. Mr. Levin previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Milwaukee and San Francisco, where he served as Chief of the office’s Criminal Division. From 2008 to 2014, Mr. Levin was a member of the White Collar & Investigations practice at the law firm Perkins Coie LLP. Mr. Levin is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and since 2008 has served as an adjunct professor of law at Northwestern University Law School.