U.S. SEC lawyer who oversaw financial crisis cases to leave

Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:26pm EDT
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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters) - Kenneth Lench, a 23-year veteran attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who oversaw many financial crisis-related cases against Wall Street, is retiring from the agency and returning to the private sector.

The SEC on Tuesday publicly announced Lench's retirement, which had been expected by agency insiders for a few months.

Lench first joined the SEC's enforcement division as a staff attorney in 1990 and rose through the ranks.

Since 2010, he has served as the head of the SEC's structured and new products unit, one of five specialized enforcement sections. It focuses on cases involving asset-backed securities, derivatives and other complex products.

The unit's most well-known case under Lench's leadership involved a $550 million settlement with Goldman Sachs over allegations the bank misled investors about a collateralized debt obligation known as ABACUS.

Specifically, the SEC alleged that Goldman had allowed hedge fund Paulson & Co. to help select the assets underlying the CDO and later bet against it - a fact unbeknownst to investors.

Although the bank settled with the SEC, the SEC's case against Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre is ongoing.

Tourre's trial in a federal court in Manhattan got under way on Monday. [ID: nL1N0FL1FG]   Continued...