Top former federal enforcer, Robert S. Khuzami leaves the S.E.C and joins Kirkland & Ellis, with a stellar salary of more than $5 million a year. Robert Khuzami put himself through the University of Rochester driving trucks and doing dock work at night. He later went to law school at Boston University and joined Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft as a junior lawyer in New York, where he handled securities cases and commercial disputes.
He later joined the United States attorney’s office as the head of the securities task force. During his 11 year tenure he prosecuted terrorism cases, including the conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman, tied to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, according to the NY Times. In 2002, he joined Deutsche Bank, where he became a general counsel. During the financial crises, the S.E.C recruited Mr. Khuzami, and he added transparency to obscure Wall Street practices by “applying prosecutorial tactics to civil cases.” During Khuzami’s tenure, the enforcement division “logged a record number of actions, including a case under Goldman Sachs.”
When Mr. Khuzami announced his departure from the S.E.C., more than 20 firms came to inquire about him. Westport based hedgefund, Bridgewater, was one company that approached Mr. Khuzami. Visa, WilmerHale, Swaine & Moore, Latham & Watkins, Cadwalader, and more than a dozen others gave him job offers.
At Kirkland, Robert Khuzami will be able to create his own practice, and the group he joins will include a former federal judge and a U.S. deputy attorney general. So he will be received well and be among friends. However, certain watchdog groups feel concern with the pattern of former S.E.C officials joining Wall Street firms. Formerly at Goldman Sachs, Neel Kashkari was hand selected by Henry Paulson to be the senior advisor to the U.S Treasury Secretary. He assisted in the financial bailout TARP, and after working with Congress, he was offered a position at Pimco, the world’s largest bond investor. There is diligent oversight making sure that there is no conflict of interest between firms represented on behalf of the S.E.C and current work with firms.
Mr. Khuzami is happy about his move. Kirkland has offices in Washington, where his family resides, and he argued against critics, “Anyone required to shine a light on the darkest corners of Wall Street must know how it works.” He also pointed out that Wall Street firms’ ranks were bolstered by investigators and attorneys who previously worked for the government in roles where they scrutinized Wall Street firms and their transactions, and that this revolving door between the Securities Exchange Commission and Wall Street effectively strengthens companies’ internal controls.