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Chris counsels national broker-dealers, investment advisers, coin-based exchanges, and emerging fintech companies on compliance with state and federal securities laws and self-regulatory organization rules. He also defends investigations and enforcement actions by state securities regulators, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
As Chief of the New Jersey Bureau of Securities (BOS) from 2017 to 2021, Chris became a national authority on securities regulation and crypto-related enforcement matters. Under his leadership, BOS filed some of the earliest crypto-enforcement actions, including the March 2018 action against the Steven Seagal promoted initial coin offering (ICO) of Bitcoiin. Since then, the BOS has been at the forefront of the crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi) space, having filed 23 crypto- and DeFi-related enforcement actions, including cases against Blockfi and Celsius in 2021.
Chris rose to national prominence in the emerging crypto and DeFi space in 2018, when he led the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA’s) “Operation Cryptosweep” as the Chair of NASAA’s Enforcement Committee. NASAA members from more than 40 jurisdictions throughout North America participated in this initiative, which resulted in more than 330 inquiries and investigations and at least 85 enforcement actions related to ICOs or cryptocurrency investment products.
As NASAA president, Chris engaged with SEC Commissioners and FINRA leadership on various rulemaking and policies, including the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest. And when the pandemic struck, he led the organization’s COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, consisting of more than 44 state and provincial securities regulators, which initiated more than 250 investigations and enforcement actions against fraudulent investment offerings seeking to profit from the pandemic.
Chris’ prior experience in private practice includes serving as counsel in the Financial Services Regulatory and Litigation Group of a leading New Jersey law firm. He conducted internal investigations on sales practices, misappropriation, unapproved sales literature, unapproved third-party research, unsuitable trading, and insider trading, among other issues. He has also represented broker-dealers and investment advisers in regulatory enforcement actions by FINRA, SEC, and numerous state securities regulators. These matters involved allegations of fraud, systemic overbilling, money laundering, excessive trading, supervision, operational deficiencies related to the delivery of proxies and trade confirmations, private securities offerings, and the initial public offerings.
Chris began his legal career at New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General in the Securities Fraud Prosecution Section, where he was a lead trial attorney in securities fraud enforcement actions in state and administrative courts. While in that role, he prosecuted such claims as penny stock manipulation, the improper sale of unregistered securities, and other frauds.