Gary Aguirre is best known as the SEC attorney who, while heading an insider trading investigation, resisted his supervisor’s demands to give preferential treatment to a Wall Street banker. Fired for his so-called insubordination, Mr. Aguirre would prove to the satisfaction of two Senate Committees, a federal court, and three federal agencies that the SEC had acted unlawfully. These events became the focus of three Senate hearings and 108 page report by the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees. The evolving story has been told in a dozen books, national and international television, and hundreds of news articles, including one on the front page of the New York Times. He was also one of 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics (Ethisphere) in 2010.
After a very successful 27-year career as a trial lawyer in California, Mr. Aguirre left the law in 1995 to pursue other personal interests. Inspired by the lawyers in Bush v. Gore, Mr. Aguirre returned to law school in 2001 to retool for a new law career, this time in public service. He graduated with distinction from Georgetown Law Center in October 2003 with an LL.M. combining securities regulation and international law. His thesis won second prize in national competition sponsored by the SEC Alumni Association for the best paper on securities law.
After joining the SEC in 2004, Mr. Aguirre soon headed an insider trading investigation of Pequot Capital Management, formerly the world’s largest hedge fund. After his firing, he sued the SEC under FOIA to get the Pequot investigative files and won. Forbes discussed what happened next: “After a scathing 2007 report by the Senate criticized the SEC’s handling of Aguirre’s Pequot investigation, and after Aguirre dredged up the smoking gun e-mails and passed them along to the Senate, the FBI and the SEC in late 2008, the SEC reopened the case in January 2009.” Pequot closed its doors a few months later. In May 2010, Pequot and its CEO settled with the SEC for $28 million. In private practice, Mr. Aguirre represents whistleblowers and victims of securities fraud and market abuse. Mr. Aguirre has law degrees from U.C. Berkeley and Georgetown Law Center (LL.M.) and a master in Fine Arts (Film) from UCLA.
He is a founding member of the Bank Whistleblowers United.