WASHINGTON — Elaine Greenberg, chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Enforcement Unit, will step down at the end of July after more than 25 years at the SEC.

Greenberg is headed to the private sector, the SEC announced Friday.

She has served the commission in dual roles for the past three and a half years, leading the muni and pensions enforcement unit since its creation in January 2010 and heading the Philadelphia regional office's enforcement program since December 2006.

Under Greenberg's leadership, the SEC brought enforcement actions that set new precedents.

During her tenure the SEC charged New Jersey and Illinois with misleading the public about their pension liabilities, the first and second SEC actions against states. The SEC's charges against Harrisburg, Pa. in May established that issuers could be liable for misleading statements outside their disclosure documents.

While the cease and desist orders meted out in those cases drew fire from some critics who wanted individuals held accountable, SEC chairman Mary Jo White said recently the commission would begin to pull back on allowing alleged wrongdoers to settle without admitting guilt.

Greenberg also assisted on the SEC's comprehensive report on the municipal market last year, from which many current muni-related SEC initiatives have grown. That report was spearheaded by commissioner Elisse Walter, who praised Greenberg's work at the commission.

"Elaine's leadership of the unit and her efforts on behalf of investors have been groundbreaking and have had a tremendous impact on the behavior of participants in the municipal securities and public pensions markets," said Walter.

Another top SEC official agreed.

"Elaine has had a distinguished career at the SEC and the depth and breadth of her knowledge and experience is impressive," said Andrew Ceresney, co-director of the SEC's Enforcement Division. "Through her expert lawyering, creativity and tenacity, she has made major contributions to the agency by bringing numerous significant enforcement actions."

As the muni and pension unit's inaugural leader, Greenberg leaves a wide legacy, the SEC said in a release.

"Ms. Greenberg determined its objectives, recruited, selected, and trained staff members, set priorities, and established five areas of focus — offering and disclosure fraud, tax and arbitrage-driven fraud, pay-to-play and public corruption violations, public pension accounting and disclosure violations, and valuation and pricing fraud," the SEC release said.

Greenberg earned bachelor's and law degrees at Temple University before joining the SEC's Philadelphia office in 1987 as a staff attorney. She was later promoted to be a branch chief and then assistant director.

"I have been very fortunate to have served alongside such talented and dedicated colleagues over these many years and am proud and appreciative of our collective achievements on behalf of the nation's investors and the securities markets," Greenberg said in a statement.

The SEC has not announced a successor for Greenberg.

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