On June 29, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Gurbir Grewal has been appointed Director of the Division of Enforcement. Grewal currently serves as the Attorney General for the State of New Jersey and will begin his tenure as Enforcement Director on July 26.
“The Enforcement Division has a critical role to play in finding and punishing violations of the law,” said Grewal. “I’m excited to get to work with the talented team of public servants to uncover and prosecute misconduct and protect investors.
“I’m honored and delighted to welcome Attorney General Grewal to the SEC,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “He has had a distinguished career as New Jersey’s chief law enforcement officer and as a prosecutor at both the local and federal levels. He has the ideal combination of experience, values, and leadership ability to helm the Enforcement Division at this critical time. I look forward to working closely with him to protect investors and root out wrongdoing in our markets.”
The SEC Division of Enforcement works closely with the SEC Office of the Whistleblower to fully utilize whistleblowers as a tool in policing securities laws. Previous Enforcement Directors have praised the role of whistleblowers in the agency’s enforcement efforts. In 2020, then-Director of the Division of Enforcement Stephanie Avakian stated that the SEC Whistleblower Program “is critically important to the SEC and to the Enforcement Division. It is important to reward whistleblowers and to do it timely. Since the enactment of the program in 2011, whistleblower tips have resulted in numerous high-quality enforcement actions.”
Grewal has been the Attorney General of New Jersey since 2018. Before taking on that role, he served as Bergen County Prosecutor. Grewal also previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, where, according to the SEC, “he served as Chief of the Economic Crimes Unit from 2014 to 2016 and oversaw the investigation and prosecution of all major white collar and cybercrimes in the District of New Jersey.”
The most notable whistleblower case of Grewal’s tenure as Attorney General came last fall when New Jersey, under Grewal’s direction, joined in on a whistleblower’s False Claim lawsuit. The whistleblower lawsuit is against Academy Bus LLC, a Hoboken-based bus company. The whistleblower alleges that the company defrauded New Jersey’s public transit corporation out of more than $15 million by underreporting trips its buses missed and billing for trips it never took.
Grewal has not yet commented on his level of commitment towards utilizing the SEC Whistleblower Program. In recent months, however, the SEC has signaled a new focus on climate and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues and will be relying on whistleblowers to assist in its enforcement efforts. In March, the agency announced the creation of a Climate and ESG Task Force in the Division of Enforcement which will work closely with the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.
Relatedly, the SEC asked for public input on its policies surrounding climate risk disclosure requirements. A number of comments called for the agency to implement stronger requirements and to fully utilize whistleblowers in the enforcement of the requirements.