SEC official who helped spearhead ICO enforcement actions is leaving the agency

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced Wednesday that Division of Enforcement co-director Steven Peikin will leave the agency this month. 

Peikin joined the agency in 2017 at a time when the SEC was coming up against a number of cryptocurrency court cases. The agency lost several of these cases before it refined its enforcement team, which Peikin and co-director Stephanie Avakian led.

That same year, Peikin and Avakian created the Cyber Unit, a specialized unit to combat cyber-related crimes and threats and address digital asset and ledger technology violations. Peikin spearheaded numerous enforcement actions against fraudulent ICOs, some of which included a crypto operation promoted by boxer Floyd Maryweather Jr. and music producer DJ Khaled, as well as the SEC's lawsuit against Kik Interactive in 2019.

Throughout his three years in the role, Peikin focused his efforts on addressing emerging threats alongside Avakian. 


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“Their investor-first efforts have resulted in thousands of actions that have righted wrongs and, more importantly, both returned illicit gains to harmed investors and eliminated improper fees, providing lasting savings for years to come,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said. 

In their first Annual Report of the Division of Enforcement, Peikin and Avakian identified five main areas they wanted to focus on as co-directors: Establishing initiatives and delegating resources to protect market participants, holding individuals accountable for wrongful actions, adopting new initiatives and processes to help the Division protect investors, imposing sanctions like monetary relief and suspensions of trading and assessing how the Division spent its resources. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, Peikin and Avakian created the Coronavirus Steering Committee through which they led the Division’s response to threats presented by the virus to market conditions. 

Peikin will leave on August 14, according to the announcement, while Avakian will continue at the SEC as Director. 


About Author

Saniya More (pronounced: Saan-ya Mo-ray) is a quadrilingual journalist at The Block. She got her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and did her undergraduate degree at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University. Her work has appeared in CBS News, Bangkok Post, Thai Enquirer, Globalists, Byline Times and other publications. When she’s not chasing a story, you will most likely find her biking, tweeting, taking photos or creating Spotify playlists for every occasion.