Citizens Financial Group has hired Stephen T. Gannon, a former attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission, to be its general counsel and chief legal officer.

He is scheduled to start Aug. 11. Gannon joins the Providence, R.I., company from Capital One Financial (COF), where he worked as deputy general counsel.

Gannon previously worked as an attorney and branch chief at the SEC. He also served as general counsel for the retail brokerage group at Wachovia Securities. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia in 2008, during the financial crisis.

"Steve's extensive legal background in financial services, including his expertise in securities law and regulatory matters, makes him a very strong addition to our executive committee," Bruce Van Saun, chairman and chief executive of Citizens Financial, said in a press release Monday.

News of the executive hire comes as the $128-billion Citizens prepares to be spun off by its parent company, the Royal Bank of Scotland. Last year RBS announced plans to divest itself of Citizens through a series of offerings, citing pressure from regulators. RBS filed for the unit's initial public offering in May.

Gannon replaces Sheldon Goldfarb, who will work exclusively for RBS Americas, a separate subsidiary. He served as general counsel for Citizens Financial for six years.

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