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Cetera Switches General Counsel Amid SEC Inquiry Into Affiliate

Nov. 10, 2020, 10:55 PM

Cetera Financial Group Inc., one of the largest independent broker-dealers in the U.S., announced Tuesday its promotion of Lisa Gok to general counsel.

Gok, a former federal prosecutor and longtime assistant regional director for the Securities and Exchange Commission in Los Angeles, has been deputy general counsel at Cetera since 2012. Over the past eight years, Gok has overseen litigation matters at Cetera and acted as a key liaison with regulators.

She succeeds former Cetera legal chief David Greene, who joined the privately held financial services company a year ago after spending nearly two decades at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Cetera said in a statement that Greene “left the organization earlier this year for personal reasons.”

Greene, who took over Cetera’s general counsel role from Brian Stern, now of counsel at Kessler Collins in Dallas, wasn’t immediately available to discuss his own departure. Gok didn’t respond to a request for comment about the circumstances surrounding her promotion at Cetera, whose affiliate Cetera Advisors LLC is facing SEC charges that the investment adviser profited by failing to disclose client conflicts.

Cetera, which was sold for $1.7 billion in 2018 to private equity firm Genstar Capital LLC, operates a network of broker-dealers that offer asset management and wealth services to clients. The company was once the investment advisory arm of RCS Capital Corp., a brokerage started by real estate investor Nicholas Schorsch that went bankrupt in 2016, two years after buying Cetera for nearly $1.2 billion.

Foley & Lardner is representing Cetera in its SEC case. The law firm has handled nearly 12% of Cetera’s federal litigation caseload within the past five years, according to Bloomberg Law data. Other leading U.S. litigation firms for El Segundo, Calif.-based Cetera during that timeframe include Winget, Spadafora & Schwartzberg; Reminger; Bressler, Amery & Ross; and Sidley Austin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
Rebekah Mintzer in New York at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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