Ex-Prosecutor To Lead SEC

Jan 24 2013 | 9:53am ET

It's official: President Barack Obama will name former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White as his pick to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission.

White would be the first former prosecutor to hold the chairmanship of the U.S. financial services regulator. She'll be formally nominated today at 2:30 p.m. at the White House, alongside Richard Cordray, whom the president will renominate to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

White has been seen as the front-runner for the job since last week. She is something of an unlikely pick for a post that has been generally held by regulators, industry veterans and politicians. During her nearly 10 years as U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, White prosecuted mobsters and terrorists, but was not known for an aggressive push on white-collar crime, as is the current occupant of that office, Preet Bharara. White has spent the past decade in private practice, as a white-collar defense lawyer.

White's largely unknown stands on regulation will likely be a major issue at her Senate confirmation hearings. But her appointment is no doubt designed to indicate that the Obama administration considers a crackdown on insider-trading and other white-collar crimes to be a major focus during his second term, which began this week.

If she is confirmed, White will succeed Elisse Walter, who is serving as acting chairman of the agency. Walter took over in November from Mary Schapiro, who had led the SEC during Obama's first term.

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