Salt Lake Regional Office Director Kenneth Israel to Retire From SEC After More Than 38 Years
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Kenneth Israel, director of the Salt Lake Regional Office, is retiring after more than 38 years at the agency.
Mr. Israel, who is departing at the end of this week, began working at the SEC in March 1975 in its Division of Corporate Regulation, where he reviewed Public Utility Holding Company Act filings. He transferred to the SEC’s Denver Regional Office in 1981 to work in the enforcement program. Mr. Israel became a branch chief for enforcement in the Salt Lake branch office in 1987 and was named the office director in 1994. The branch became a regional office in 2007 with Mr. Israel as its first regional director.
“Ken’s commitment and contributions to the SEC and its mission are extraordinary,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “Having served on the front lines protecting investors and our markets for decades, Ken has earned the agency’s lasting gratitude. And for nearly 20 years as the head of the Salt Lake office, he has been a steady leader and tremendous resource for all of us.”
Under Mr. Israel’s leadership, the Salt Lake office brought many “first-of-its-kind” cases, including the first mass trading suspension in 1988 against 100 microcap companies connected to corporate shell “factories” run by Salt Lake City promoters. That same year, the office took part in another first – the first time that the SEC worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an undercover operation.
Other firsts by the Salt Lake office include:
- Imperia Invest IBC in 2010 – the first SEC case where the fraud victims were primarily deaf investors. The SEC charged the Internet-based investment company and issued investor alerts, including an American Sign Language video.
- Tenaris S.A. in 2011 – the SEC’s first use of a deferred prosecution agreement to reward companies for cooperation. Tenaris paid $5.4 million to resolve charges of foreign bribery.
- Benjamin S. Staples and Benjamin O. Staples in 2013 – the SEC’s first case involving a scheme based on the “survivor option” or so-called “death put” contained in many corporate bonds.
“Ken’s experience and sage advice has greatly contributed to the success of our enforcement efforts for many years,” said George S. Canellos. “He will be sorely missed by staff across the country who have learned from his example and benefited from his guidance.”
During Mr. Israel’s tenure, the Salt Lake office sued a number of high-pressure boiler room operations both inside and outside the U.S. These include actions against David Wolfson, who sold stocks in U.S. companies through a boiler room in Laos, and against Allan Simon, Howard Ray, and Benjamin Sprecher, who sold hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. microcap stocks to investors worldwide. The Salt Lake office also brought financial fraud cases against ClearOne Communications and two of its top executives, and against former executives at MCSi Inc. Its actions against Ponzi schemes sought to return $200 million to investors defrauded by Credit Bancorp, $220 million to defrauded investors in Management Solutions Inc., and $485 million to investors in Provident Royalties LLC.
“The SEC has evolved in many special ways during these past five decades and it has been very special to be a part of it, but the vital importance of our mission always remains the same. The work we do to protect investors is extremely rewarding and I just never saw a reason to leave before retirement,” said Mr. Israel. “But even more remarkable than the longevity of my tenure is the incredible number of exceptional people I’ve worked with in this job, and the supreme levels of talent, determination, and success I’ve witnessed in our staff here in Salt Lake and all across the SEC throughout the years.”
Mr. Israel graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame and received his law degree with honors from The George Washington University Law School.