UPDATE 1-U.S. SEC loses its top examinations director to FINRA

Thu May 2, 2013 4:29pm EDT

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON May 2 (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's national examination program is leaving the agency, in what marks the latest major personnel change since Mary Jo White took over as head of the SEC last month, the SEC said Thursday.

Carlo di Florio, who was hired more than three years ago to help revamp the agency's examinations program in the wake of the Bernard Madoff scandal, is leaving to lead a new risk and strategy division at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Wall Street industry-funded brokerage watchdog.

He will be replaced by Andrew Bowden, who currently serves as deputy director of the SEC's Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations (OCIE).

"Carlo has been an outstanding leader of the National Exam Program and has made a lasting impact on the SEC by working with his team to comprehensively strengthen the agency's examination program," said White in a statement.

Di Florio was the second high-profile SEC official to announce his departure on Thursday, and the latest in a string of major staffing changes within the agency.

Earlier in the day, the SEC said it was also losing 13-year veteran David Bergers, who heads the Boston Regional Office and was also serving as deputy director of the Enforcement Division.

Last month, White also appointed former federal prosecutors Andrew Ceresney and George Canellos to serve as co-directors of the Enforcement Division, as well as White House attorney Anne Small to be the new general counsel.

She is said to still be reviewing candidates for top positions in the Trading and Markets Division. Candidates include Joseph Lombard, an attorney who once advised former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, and Virtu Financial LLC executive Chris Concannon.

MAJOR SHAKE-UP

Di Florio was first named director of the OCIE in January 2010.

At the time the SEC was still under the gun for missing the red flags about Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

The year prior, the SEC's then-Inspector General David Kotz had released a scathing investigative report which found that SEC examiners had missed numerous opportunities to uncover Madoff's fraud because they were too inexperienced and narrowly focused in their reviews.

At one point, the report also found that two different examinations were going on at the same time in different offices. The examiners only learned of the duplication after hearing it from Madoff himself.

Di Florio was credited with breathing new life into the examinations program.

He nationalized the examinations structure at the SEC to help improve communications and the flow of information, and created a risk-focused examinations strategy.

He also took a similar approach that former SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami took when revamping the Enforcement Division by creating specialized working groups for derivatives, hedge funds, private equity, valuation, structured products, and market structure, among others.

In a separate announcement Thursday, FINRA said di Florio will start his new job on June 24.

This is the second time this week that FINRA has snagged an SEC alumnus for a new position there.

On Tuesday FINRA said it hired Jonathan Sokobin, who once served as acting director of the SEC's division of risk, strategy and financial innovation and most recently held a high-level position at an office in the U.S. Treasury Department.