Former prosecutor named to lead SEC’s NY regional office

Milbank litigation partner takes over revolving-door post left vacant twice in a year due to great resignation among high-level SEC officials

The position of regional director for the SEC’s New York Office – which has been a bit of a revolving door since former director Daniel Kahl resigned in March – has been filled by former federal prosecutor Antonia M. Apps, according to a Dec. 27 announcement from the Sec.

Apps – a litigation partner in the Litigation & Arbitration Group based in the New York office of Milbank LLP – is a former an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorneys’ Office Southern District of New York.

She will replace Thomas Smith and Maurya Keating, who had been serving as acting co-directors of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. The two will continue as associate regional directors of the Enforcement and Examination programs, respectively, according to the announcement.

The two had to step up in September to fill the gap left by the resignation of Lara Shalov Mehraban – a 15-year SEC veteran who served as associate regional director for enforcement in the SEC’s New York Regional Office since 2015 – who resigned in September for a job as partner in the New York office of Sidley Austin LLP.

Mehraban was named acting director of the office in March following the resignation of Daniel Kahl, who had been serving as acting director of the SEC’s Division of Examinations as well as being director of the New York Regional Office

“Antonia’s diverse background as a securities fraud prosecutor, civil litigator and leader among the bar, will serve her well as she assumes leadership of our New York Regional Office,” according to a statement in the announcement from Gurbir Grewal, the SEC’s Director of Enforcement.

“Throughout her career, Antonia has demonstrated her tenacity, skill and commitment to protecting investors and strengthening compliance in the securities industry. I am excited that she will lead the office’s examinations programs,” agreed SEC Division of Examinations director Richard R. Best.

Apps, who also teaches a Harvard Law School class on white-collar criminal law, will lead a staff of more than 380, including attorneys, accountants, investigators, securities-compliance examiners and others involved in compliance examinations and enforcement across New York and New Jersey, according to the announcement.

Kahl and Mehraban are just two of a long list of senior-level SEC officials who have left the agency this year..

Others include 17-year SEC veteran C. Dabney O’Riordan, the longest-serving leader of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset-Management Unit, who quit in November for a job as a partner at law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

Also on the list is Prashant Yerramalli, who was appointed chief of staff on Jan. 20, 2021 under acting chair Allison Herren Lee and announced in November that his resignation from the post would be effective as of Dec. 31.

Jonathan Hecht, a 10-year SEC veteran and assistant chief counsel of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, who spent more than six months as acting co-chief counsel, resigned in October to take as an attorney in the Complex Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Goodwin Procter LLP

The SEC also announced on Dec. 1 that 19-year SEC veteran David L. Peavler would leave the post he’d held since 2019, overseeing examinations and enforcement across four states as director of the Fort Worth Regional Office. Eric R. Werner, associate regional director of enforcement in the Fort Worth office, and Marshall Gandy, associate regional director of examinations, will take over as co-acting regional directors.

An October report from the SEC Office of the Inspector General criticized the agency for overworking its staff but noted that the projected rise in attrition to 6.4% for 2022 is approximately in line with the 6.1% rate of attrition the Partnership for Public Service estimated for all government agencies.

The attrition rate was particularly high among the highest-level pay grades, which it estimated could reach 20.8%, and attorneys of all pay grades, among whom the attrition rate was 8.4%, the report said.