SEC’s New N.Y. Chief Turns Spotlight On Hedge Funds

Jan 4 2010 | 12:25pm ET

You’d better watch out, New York hedge funds: George Canellos is coming to town.

Well, he’s already in town. But he is making a list, of those firms accused of wrongdoing and those who seem likelier than others to be wrongdoing. And his inspections staffers will be knocking on their doors.

“Investment management, and especially hedge funds, is a big area of emphasis,” Canellos told “Since I started, investment management inspection and enforcement work has consumed a significant portion of my time.”

“We have planned a number of significant sweeps of investment advisers,” he added. “In the last few months—really in the last year or two—we have tried to orient our program, especially the investment management program, more towards cause- and risk-based exams,” as opposed to more routine checks.

The SEC took a beating over the past year for failing to catch Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme despite repeated warnings and several inspections. Now, Canellos said, the SEC is putting a premium on making sure that inspectors are equipped to catch the most sophisticated scams.

“A great deal of attention at every level of the SEC, including the commissioners themselves, is being given to developing areas of specialization; trying to make staff smarter and swifter and on the cutting edge of markets,” he said. “We bring in some academics, but mostly industry people to mine all sorts of information to better enable us to understand products and markets and improve our ability to assess financial and compliance risks.”

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