U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi

Marc Berger, director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s New York office, earned a partnership share of $2.4 million last year from Ropes & Gray, according to a financial disclosure publicly released this week.

Berger’s client roster included Morgan Stanley & Co., FMR Corp., Pfizer Inc. and Pacific Investment Co., the financial disclosure revealed. Berger was formerly co-leader of the firm’s global securities and futures enforcement practice. He was named in December the director of the SEC’s New York regional office.

Berger’s financial disclosure offers a glimpse into past client relationships and could force future recusals—an issue ever at the fore for leaders at financial enforcement agencies. Recusals dogged a former Obama-era SEC chair, Mary Jo White, according to a 2015 report in The New York Times. White last year returned to Debevoise & Plimpton.

Berger’s disclosure, which captures 2017 up until March, also showed he provided legal services to Allianz Funds, Calvert Investments Inc., Western Asset Management Co. and a broker named Ken Zegar, who settled a disciplinary action last year with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Berger declined to identify 26 individual clients and 21 corporate clients, saying the representations were subject to attorney-client privilege and other confidentiality obligations.

Berger joined Ropes & Gray in 2014 from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, where he had been the leader of the securities fraud unit.

In 2012, Berger was named chief of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney Office’s securities and commodities fraud task force. The role put him in charge of the investigation of former JPMorgan Chase traders who were accused of trying to conceal losses from the bank’s failed “London Whale” bet.

At the SEC, Berger oversees a staff of more than 390 enforcement attorneys, accountants, investigators and compliance examiners. The New York regional office has one of the highest concentrations of regulated financial companies.

“As a federal prosecutor in New York, I had the privilege to work with many of the lawyers, accountants, and examiners in the New York office and see firsthand their talent and dedication,” Berger said in December. “I now look forward to joining their ranks and leading the office’s efforts to protect investors and maintain fair markets.”

Berger did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. The SEC said in a statement: “SEC staff work with the ethics office to make sure they are working within the applicable laws and regulations to prevent conflicts of interest in our work.”

In his first few months there, the SEC’s New York office has stepped in to stop an alleged pump-and-dump scheme and filed civil charges against a bitcoin trading platform, BitFunder. The company’s founder was accused of operating an unregistered online securities exchange and failing to disclose a cyber attack that resulted in the theft of more than 6,000 bitcoins.

“Platforms that engage in the activity of a national securities exchange, regardless of whether that activity involves digital assets, tokens, or coins, must register with the SEC or operate pursuant to an exemption,” Berger said last month. “We will continue to focus on these types of platforms to protect investors and ensure compliance with the securities laws.”


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