Sardar Gurbir Grewal appointed as Head of Enforcement

On July 26 2021, Gurbir Grewal assumed the leadership role of SEC enforcement....

In 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) appointed Gurbir Grewal, the Attorney General of New Jersey, as the leader of its enforcement division. Grewal, who had been serving as the state's top law enforcement official since 2018, took over the SEC enforcement on July 26. He is one of the state's longest-serving attorneys general and also the first Sikh American to hold this position.

As per a statement made by Grewal, the enforcement division plays a vital role in identifying and penalizing law violations. He expressed his excitement to work with the talented team of public servants to prosecute misconduct and protect investors.

Gary Gensler, the SEC Chair and President Joe Biden's pick to lead the agency faced criticism for hiring corporate defense lawyer Alex Oh for the post of enforcement leader in April. Oh resigned within a week of assuming the position after a federal judge reprimanded her and others for defending Exxon Mobil in a lawsuit brought by Indonesian villagers. Therefore, Gensler was under pressure to appoint someone who could be tough on Wall Street.

Grewal, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, has a reputation for being tough on former President Donald Trump in New Jersey. During his tenure, he led the state in filing numerous lawsuits against the former president's administration on issues such as loosened environmental protections and the Affordable Care Act. He was also at the forefront of police reform and gun violence issues. In addition, he oversaw the state's securities bureau, which took action related to cryptocurrency offerings, subprime auto lending, and predatory student loans.

According to Murphy, Grewal has been an invaluable member of their administration and a dedicated public servant to the residents of New Jersey. Although they will miss his leadership, Murphy believes Grewal is the right person to protect investors across the country and congratulated Gensler for selecting him as the outstanding choice.

His professional journey 

Gurbir Grewal previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in both New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York before joining the state's government. He also worked at the law firm Howrey LLP in private practice, where he represented public companies in proceedings with financial regulators and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations. Grewal's appointment as head of the SEC's enforcement division was welcomed by Wall Street watchdog groups who had previously criticized the agency for failing to hold powerful financial institutions accountable.

According to Dennis Kelleher, the president and CEO of Better Markets, Grewal's background as a public servant made him an ideal candidate for the position. Jeff Hauser, the executive director of the Revolving Door Project, also praised Grewal's appointment, citing his experience handling diverse challenges in the public interest.

 Most recently, Grewal served as New Jersey's top law enforcement leader during a turbulent time in policing, where he prioritized overhauling rules governing police use of force and requiring the release of the names of law enforcement officers whose misconduct led to their termination, demotion, or suspension of five days or more over the past 20 years in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder. Governor Murphy will appoint an interim attorney general to fill the remainder of Grewal's four-year term.

He imposed new restrictions on the use of force by the police

In December, the office of New Jersey's Attorney General, Mr Gurbir Grewal, revised the rules for the use of force by the state's 38,000 police officers. Under the new policy, officers must intervene if they witness a colleague using illegal or excessive force. The policy, which will take effect next year, also sets limits on when police can use force against civilians, including striking, chasing, shooting, or using police dogs.

Additionally, all officers are expected to undergo training in de-escalation tactics and bystander intervention. "So we're producing guardians, not warriors," Mr. Grewal stated. These changes were accompanied by the launch of a website that allows users to track and search incidents where a New Jersey police officer reported using physical force.

Earlier this month, Mr. Grewal released over a decade's worth of data on motor vehicle stops conducted by State Police troopers, including the race or ethnicity of the drivers pulled over or charged.

In January, the state's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police departments are obligated to release a list of officers who have received "major discipline," leading to a suspension of five or more days, as directed by Mr Grewal. Additionally, a bill is currently pending in the Legislature that would require the release of more police disciplinary records that are currently kept confidential, similar to the repeal of a section of New York's civil rights law in New York City.

As Mr Grewal stated, "States are laboratories for democracy." He quoted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, saying, "If there's going to be meaningful change on policing, it will come here."

*Based on an article by Kellie Mejdrich And Katherine Landergan, published in Politico on 29th June 2021, and another one by Trace Tully published in New York Times on 26th July 2021

 

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