Matthew Martens, the head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s trial unit who won a fraud ruling in court against former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) executive Fabrice Tourre, is leaving the agency, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
Martens, 41, joined the SEC in August 2010 as the enforcement division struggled to restore its reputation after missing Bernard Madoff’s multi-billion dollar fraud. His deputy, Matthew Solomon, will take over as chief litigation counsel when he leaves in the coming weeks, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the decision is not yet public.
Martens, who earlier in his career worked as a law clerk for former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, was thrust into the spotlight as the lead trial attorney to argue the SEC’s case against Tourre, who had been accused of misleading investors about a financial product linked to subprime mortgages. Martens’ victory in court bolstered pledges by SEC Chairman Mary Jo White to seek more onerous settlements even if it could lead to more trials.
His departure comes as a setback to White’s efforts to strengthen the agency’s bench of litigators. In a speech yesterday, White said that having a formidable trial threat is essential for reaching meaningful settlements with securities violators.
Solomon, 40, joined the SEC in April 2012 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, where he was chief of the fraud unit. He holds degrees from Wesleyan University and Georgetown University Law Center.
Solomon began his career as a law clerk for U.S. Judge James Robertson at the District Court for the District of Columbia. He also served as a clerk for Judge Dennis Jacobs at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the SEC said.
Martens, who is in talks with several private law firms, hasn’t yet decided where he will work after leaving the SEC, according to the person.
John Nester, an SEC spokesman, declined to comment.
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