Silicon Valley companies know to operate in the gray might be heaving a small sigh of relief this morning. Yesterday, afternoon, the Securities & Exchange Commission announced that Jina Choi, the head of its San Francisco office, is retiring after 16 years with the agency.
The release about Choi’s move is glowing, though it doesn’t off an explanation of why Choi is leaving or what her next move may be, though many federal employees are eventually lured into higher paying jobs in the private sector. (We’ve reached out to learn more.)
Choi was appointed to lead the SEC’s Bay Area office in 2013, and with a staff of 130 enforcement attorneys, accountants, investigators, and compliance examiners, it has brought enforcements against numerous high-fliers, including, most recently, Tesla’s Elon Musk, who was made to step down as chairman of the company for a period of at least three years after he was accused of fraud for tweeting that he had secured company for the car company when he had not.
As part of that same settlement, Musk had to pay a $20 million fine; Tesla promised to put in place a system for monitoring Musk’s statements to the public about the company; and Tesla agreed to pay a separate $20 million fine and to appoint two independent directors to the board. It has since appointed longtime board member Robyn Denholm as new chair to replace Musk.
In September, we had talked with Choi on stage at our San Francisco Disrupt show about another of the agency’s most famous cases to date: Theranos, the blood-testing company that was recently dissolved but was charged with massive civil fraud by the SEC back in March.
It was a case that the SEC spent nearly two years building, and when we talked with Choi about what took so long, she explained how resource-intensive nature of the SEC’s work in some detail.
The SEC’s Bay Area office oversees a surprising number of regions, including Portland, Seattle, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.
It has not yet announced who will replace Choi.
The SEC just today announced that it has settled charges against boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and music producer DJ Khaled for failing to disclose payments they received for promoting investments in ICOs, though the case was pursued by the agency’s New York office.
Mayweather agreed to pay $300,000 in disgorgement, a $300,000 penalty, and $14,775 in what’s called prejudgment interest. Khaled agreed to pay $50,000 in disgorgement, a $100,000 penalty, and $2,725 in prejudgment interest.