Stephen Cutler, Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of Enforcement, has announced that he intends to leave the Commission in about a month to return to the private sector.
Cutler, 43, was named Enforcement Director in October 2001. His resignation comes just weeks after Paul Roye, another key figure in SEC actions in the recent years, left the Commission's Division of Investment Management.
Cutler led the SEC's investigations of some of America's largest financial scandals, including those at Enron, WolrdCom, Adelphia, Qwest, Tyco and HealthSouth. The investigations resulted in enforcement actions against Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, Andrew Fastow, Scott Sullivan, John Rigas, Joseph Nacchio, Dennis Kozlowski and Richard Scrushy, among others.
Under Cutler's watch, the SEC also obtained judgments in enforcement actions totaling more than $6 billion in penalties and disgorgement, more than $4.5 billion of which is being returned to harmed investors. Among them were WorldCom's $750 million penalty (the largest against a public company in Commission history) and the more recent $300 million penalty against AOL-Time Warner.
Of the 12 largest penalties in the SEC's history, 10 were obtained in cases brought under Cutler's leadership.
"Steve Cutler has been an outstanding leader of the Commission's enforcement program. America's investors have been enormously well served by Steve's keen intellect, superb judgment and abiding sense of justice," said SEC Chairman William Donaldson. "He is what every prosecutor should be: tough but fair. We will miss Steve's dedication, leadership and integrity as we continue our critical efforts to pursue and root out wrongdoing in our marketplace."
Cutler said, "I have had the very good fortune to work with an extraordinary group of colleagues during an historic period for the Commission and our capital markets. I am proud to have been a part of the agency's efforts and considerable accomplishments in the enforcement arena."
Prior to joining the SEC as the Deputy Director of the Division of Enforcement in January 1999, Cutler was a partner at the Washington law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. Before that, he served as a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles and as a law clerk to Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Court.