WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday announced that William Hicks, who worked on a key muni case, has been named associate regional director of enforcement for the Atlanta regional office and that Rhea Kemble Dignam has been named director of the office.
A 25-year veteran of the SEC, Hicks most recently served as regional trial counsel in Atlanta. In his new position, he will oversee the SEC’s enforcement activities for Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.
Hicks has been involved in a number of municipal securities enforcement cases, including one of the first in the commission’s drive to clean up the municipal securities market in the 1990s.
The case involved 81 urban renewal revenue note issues sold by 41 Mississippi localities between 1987 and 1996. The commission faulted the underwriter, its officials and a bond lawyer for failing to disclose the risk that the bonds might not be tax-exempt.
Though the case, involving the firm Thom Welch & Co., was successfully prosecuted, bond lawyers and other market participants argued when the SEC first filed securities fraud charges in 1994 that it was unfair and wrong for it to bring tax-related charges in connection with a transaction if the Internal Revenue Service had not found that any tax problems had occurred.
Hicks previously worked in the SEC’s Miami office as an enforcement staff attorney from 1984 to 1986 and as a branch chief from 1986 to 1989. He served as an assistant director in the Miami office from 1989 to 1992, and then relocated to the Atlanta office, becoming regional trial counsel.
“Throughout his career with the SEC, Bill has been a strong and aggressive force in our efforts to hold accountable those who violate the nation’s securities laws,” said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s division of enforcement, in a statement. “We look forward to his continued leadership in such a key role.”
Dignam joins the SEC from Ernst & Young LLP, where she served in a number of management positions from 2001 to 2009. She will oversee the Atlanta office’s enforcement and examination activities in the five Southeast states that the office oversees. She succeeds Katherine “Kit” Addleman, who left the agency last year to become a partner at Haynes and Boone LLP in Dallas. She will begin working at the SEC next month.
“Rhea brings a diverse legal background and extensive real-world expertise to her new position at the SEC,” chairwoman Mary Schapiro said in a statement.