Sources familiar with the Obama administration’s search have told the Wall Street Journal that Mary Jo White is the frontrunner for the position of SEC Chairman.
If nominated and confirmed, she would be the first former prosecutor to head the organisation.
Ms. White already has an impressive ‘first’ in her career – she was the first woman to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a position she held from 1993 to 2002.
A 2001 CNN profile celebrates White’s career handling “cases that include Wall Street crime, international art theft, organised crime racketeering, drug trafficking, police corruption and terrorism.”
Some career highlights include overseeing the prosecution of John Gotti and investigating the last-day pardon given to Marc Rich by President Clinton.
But White also has experience on the other side of the aisle, offering her legal services to top bankers while serving as chair of the litigation department for Debevoise & Plimpton, a prominent NYC law firm. She’s defended former Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis against securities fraud, and helped Morgan Stanley’s former CEO John Mack in 2005.
This paragraph from her Debevoise & Plimpton bio may discourage consumer protection advocates who expect White to be tough on bankers – lately, she’s spent her days defending accused white-collar criminals:
Ms. White’s practice concentrates on internal investigations and defence of companies and individuals accused by the government of involvement in white collar corporate crime or Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and civil securities law violations, and on other major business litigation disputes and crises.
Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America, refers to White as “a blank slate,” intimating that little is known about her views on Dodd-Frank or the agency at large.