Obama Nominates Ex-New York Attorney as New SEC Chair

US president Barack Obama has nominated a former attorney for the southern district of New York, Mary Jo White, as the next chair of financial watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Mary Jo White currently heads the litigation team at law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. If the nomination is approved, she will succeed Elisse White who has temporarily headed the SEC following the departure last month of
Mary Schapiro
. Schapiro became famous from having to handle the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis and in trying to guide through reforms such as Dodd-Frank and the controversial propsed Money Market Fund (MMF) reforms, which she had to
in the face of fierce opposition from treasurers and others. 

White was the first female attorney for the southern district of New York from 1993 to 2002, overseeing a number of high-profile cases including the prosecution of Mafia boss John Gotti, dubbed ‘the Teflon Don’, as well as individuals responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Announcing the appointment, Obama commented: “You don’t want to mess with Mary Jo. As one former SEC chairman said: ‘Mary Jo does not intimidate easily, and that’s important because she’s got a big job ahead of her.’”

In her current role, White helped defend Bank of America’s (BoA) former chief executive officer (CEO) Ken Lewis against civil suits that followed the bank’s ill-fated expansions during the financial crisis. She is also a former director of the Nasdaq stock exchange. As next chair of the SEC, White will be involved in implementing a number of unfinished rules required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill.


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