SEC Trial Lawyer Who Beat Fabrice Tourre Said to Step Down

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. executive Fabrice Tourre, is leaving the agency next month.

“Matt’s outstanding stewardship of the trial unit and his impressive command of the securities laws have resulted in many favorable outcomes for our litigation program,” George S. Canellos, co-director of the SEC’s enforcement unit, said in a statement today. “Matt leaves a legacy of great service to the agency and the investing public, and we wish him every success.”

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. He is in talks with several private law firms, and hasn’t yet decided where he will work after stepping down, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Matthew Solomon, who was deputy to Martens, will take over as chief litigation counsel, the SEC said in a statement.

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.

Meaningful Settlements

His departure comes as a setback to White’s efforts to strengthen the agency’s bench of litigators. In a speech yesterday, White said having a formidable trial threat is essential for reaching meaningful settlements with 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.

He 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.

“Matt Solomon is a talented and highly accomplished litigator with a firm grasp of the securities laws and the confidence of our trial lawyers,” Andrew Ceresney, co-director of enforcement, said in the statement. “With Matt as chief, the SEC will continue to be a formidable and feared trial threat.”

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