New SEC Regional Director Eric Werner: ‘My job is to protect investors'

In his first interview since taking the helm of the SEC's Fort Worth office, regional director Eric Werner discussed the office's very active docket, which includes cases from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas.

New SEC Regional Director Eric Werner: ‘My job is to protect investors'

Eric Werner was in his second day of work as regional director at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Fort Worth Office. He had already received hundreds of emails.

In an exclusive interview, Werner said: "There's a lot happening." This region is enormous and growing rapidly. The resources are a concern for me with all the companies, including Schwab and Fidelity, moving into this region. Even if we doubled the number of staff members, it would not be enough to keep everyone busy.

Werner is familiar with the SEC caseload and staffing. He has been working for the federal agency since 1995, when he was a law-school intern. He has been a legal advisor, staff attorney and associate director of enforcement in the Fort Worth office. The office enforces federal securities law affecting publicly traded companies, financial institution, broker-dealers, and investment advisors throughout Texas, Oklahoma Arkansas and Kansas.

Werner's Fort Worth staff includes around 100 professionals but only 24 investigatory enforcement attorneys. He plans to hire another two in the coming months. The SEC authorized him to do so. He also needs to fill the position of associate director for enforcement.

Werner replaces David Peavler who joined the Dallas office Jones Day in December after leaving the SEC.

Werner stated that the SEC Fort Worth office currently has more than 150 cases active, including several investigations that were the result of whistleblower activities.

He said that about 20 percent of his office's cases are related to offering fraud, and another 20 percent involve accounting fraud and issues involving issuers. Over five percent of the cases are related to insider trading.

He said, 'My job as an investor is to protect them. I will be fair and firm when necessary.