(Reuters) – When former New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal joins the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, he will be the firm's first executive director with no recent connection to corporate America since 2005.
For two decades, The Wall Street watchdog has largely taken its best cops from the defense attorney, which critics say creates conflicts of interest that discourage officials from properly punishing misconduct.
Mr. Grewal, 48, was given the role of governing the 1,300-person SEC unit after her predecessor Alex Oh left days off work due to issues related to her private internship. Progressives, including non-profit revolving door projects, pushed for her removal, in a political fracas that will put pressure on Grewal to deliver results. Project. "We will watch."
The first Sikh-American lawyer, Mr. Grewal, became New Jersey's Chief of Law Enforcement in 201
Although best known for his work on targeting police brutality and the Trump administration's policies, Grewal has prosecuted or overseen a number of financial criminal cases.
"Gurbir has risen so far that people forget he's a real civil servant," said Zach Intrater, a former federal prosecutor who persecuted Grewal officials, including a $ 200 million Ponzi scheme.
As head of New Jersey's financial crimes from 2014 to 2016, Mr. Grewal over bank transaction reports to dig up cases, Intrater said.
"He has real chops in this area," he added.
& # 39; 20 hours a day guy & # 39;
Mr. Grewal declined to be interviewed, but ten former colleagues and lawyers familiar with his work told Reuters he is known for being extraordinarily well-prepared in court, unprotected by challenging cases and dogged. -hour-a-day guy, ”says John Carney, who ran the same economic crime unit from 2002-2005.
Tough implementation is a priority for Democrats who say the Trump administration was soft on Wall Street. According to former President Trump, the SEC focused much more on minor fraud instead of large companies, according to Georgetown's law professor Urska Velikonja.
However, sources said that Grewal will be willing to run large companies and challenge. them in court rather than settling for fines, a common practice that Democrats say does not deter corporate error. "As a prosecutor used to the courtroom, he will not be afraid to aggressively pursue cases to trial," Carney said.
As New Jersey Attorney General, Grewal sued large companies including ExxonMobil Corp., DuPont and Unilever as part of an environmental law initiative.
According to Paul Fishman, a former federal prosecutor who hired Mr. Grewal in 2010, he is also willing to pursue complex technology-based cases, which increase as prosecutors lean. more about data analysis and focus on fintech companies and cybercrime.
Mr. Grewal has overseen hundreds of cryptocurrency investigations and in 2015 prosecuted hackers who sold inside information stolen from the company's press releases.
It is still risky to take on large companies. Last month, the Supreme Court appeared before Grewal when he tried to stop energy companies using state land.
Some question whether Grewal has sufficient securities law expertise to deal with large, complex cases. "It's a high-tech legal field and it's going to be a learning curve," said Erik Gerding, a law professor at the University of Colorado.
Former colleagues said Grewal is measured and unlikely to bite off more than he can
"Gurbir is someone who will make corporate decision makers accountable, but also understand that investors win when justice is done", says Craig Carpenito, former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, who has worked with Mr. Grewal.
"Sometimes it means walking away from a case when you do not have it."