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SEC’s cochief of enforcement George Canellos leaving

The Wall Street regulator who oversaw and closed some of the most prominent investigations into the financial crisis disclosed his departure from the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, a move that could portend a subtle shift in the agency’s enforcement agenda.

George Canellos, who was cochief of enforcement at the SEC, will leave after a tenure that spanned one of the most significant periods in the agency’s 80-year history. Canellos joined in the wake of the 2008 crisis, after the agency’s failure to detect Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme made it a symbol of regulatory incompetence.

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Nearly five years later, as the agency has regained its footing, Canellos leaves behind a productive yet complicated legacy.

He presided over an onslaught of insider trading cases, a crackdown that ensnared some of Wall Street’s most vaunted hedge funds, including SAC Capital Advisors and Galleon Group. Canellos is expected to join a private law firm.

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