Published on Feb 26th, 2015 | Posted in Articles

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Karen L. Martinez, Regional Director of the Salt Lake office, is leaving the agency and retiring this summer.

Ms. Martinez joined the SEC’s Salt Lake office staff in 2002 as Trial Counsel, and she began supervising the office’s enforcement program in 2010 when she became Assistant Director.  She was promoted to Regional Director in 2013 and has since overseen the office’s examinations and enforcement cases.   Ms. Martinez also has supervised a team within the SEC’s National Exam Program that collects and analyzes data from clearing firms and large broker-dealers throughout the country and uses a risk-based approach to determine which firms are most appropriate for SEC examinations.   

“Karen has been a dedicated public servant who has contributed greatly to the Commission’s mission,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White.  “Investors and our markets have benefited from her deep commitment on enforcement matters as well as her many other efforts.”

Ms. Martinez added, “Working with the extraordinary staff of the Salt Lake Regional Office has been the highlight of my legal career.  My successor will inherit a talented team dedicated to protecting investors.”

Under Ms. Martinez’s leadership, the Salt Lake office has brought a number of important enforcement actions including an insider trading case and asset freeze against two traders in Chile, fraud charges and an asset freeze against a plan administrator who allegedly caused investors to lose millions of dollars in their retirement accounts, fraud charges and an asset freeze against an unregistered investment adviser who allegedly misrepresented his trading record to investors, and charges against an auditing firm for failing to comply with its independence obligations.

Earlier in her SEC career, Ms. Martinez was involved in a variety of other enforcement matters including the agency’s first-ever deferred prosecution agreement, charges against a company that targeted deaf investors, charges involving a $220 million Ponzi scheme, and a case against a father and son allegedly scheming to profit from the deaths of terminally ill individuals. 

She also successfully litigated cases involving insider trading and other misconduct.

“Karen is a committed and effective member of our team,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “She has brought her intelligence, common sense, and extensive knowledge of the securities laws to bear on everything that she has done for the agency’s investor protection mission.”

Andrew J. Bowden, Director of the SEC’s National Exam Program, added, “Karen is an exemplary public servant and colleague.  She has been a true, fair, and effective guardian of investors and our markets and has helped make us more effective in accomplishing our mission.”

Prior to joining the SEC staff, Ms. Martinez worked in private practice.  She began her legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Christine M. Durham of the Utah Supreme Court.  Ms. Martinez earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho, and she earned a master’s degree in mathematics and her law degree from the University of Utah.