SEC chair White to step down be­fore term ends

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

THE chair of the US Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion, Mary Jo White, will step down in Jan­uary, three years be­fore the end of her term, the SEC an­nounced.

Ms White be­comes the first ma­jor po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee to head for the exit when Pres­i­dent Barack Obama leaves of­fice, fol­low­ing Don­ald Trump’s up­set vic­tory last week in the race for the White House.

Mr Trump has sig­nalled a com­ing shift in the en­force­ment of se­cu­ri­ties and fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tions.

The SEC state­ment did not ad­dress the rea­sons for Ms White’s early de­par­ture. She said that dur­ing her reign the agency suc­ceeded in pro­tect­ing in­vestors as well im­prov­ing over­sight in ar­eas such as as­set man­age­ment and cor­po­rate dis­clo­sures.

“I am very proud of our three con­sec­u­tive years of record en­force­ment ac­tions, dozens of re­forms through our rule­mak­ings that have strength­ened in­vestor pro­tec­tions and mar­ket sta­bil­ity,” Ms White said.

A for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor, Ms White took over lead­er­ship of the SEC in April 2013 af­ter a lengthy ca­reer as a pow­er­ful white-col­lar crim­i­nal de­fence at­tor­ney, hav­ing rep­re­sented ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions that went on to face SEC scru­tiny un­der her lead­er­ship of the agency.

She took charge of the reg­u­la­tor as the dust was still set­tling from the 2008 global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and with ire among law­mak­ers at per­ceived gov­ern­ment le­niency to­ward large fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions near its zenith.

Ms White’s con­nec­tions, in­clud­ing the fact her hus­band is a cor­po­rate at­tor­ney, re­quired her to re­cuse her­self from mul­ti­ple mat­ters that came be­fore the SEC, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports in the US.

They also at­tracted the sus­pi­cions of re­form-minded crit­ics, who saw Ms White as too close to the in­dus­try she was meant to hold to ac­count.

Fire­brand Mas­sachusetts Se­na­tor El­iz­a­beth War­ren, who has cam­paigned for greater ac­count­abil­ity on Wall Street, last month called for Ms White’s res­ig­na­tion and ac­cused her of un­der­min­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pri­or­i­ties for cor­po­rate ac­count­abil­ity.

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Jack Lew how­ever praised Ms White as a cham­pion of fair and se­cure mar­kets.

“Un­der Mary Jo’s stew­ard­ship, the SEC has re­duced risks to our fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity and recog­nised that it must adapt to trends in mar­kets to pro­vide ef­fec­tive over­sight,” said Mr Lew.

How­ever Pub­lic Cit­i­zen, a con­sumer rights ad­vo­cacy group, said Ms White had failed the pub­lic by stymieing reg­u­la­tion, re­duc­ing cor­po­rate trans­parency and “slow-walk­ing” the rule­mak­ing process un­der the land­mark 2010 Dodd-Frank fi­nan­cial re­form leg­is­la­tion.

“Mary Jo White was a dis­ap­point­ing chair,” the group said in a state­ment.

Photo: EPA

Mary Jo White has three years left in her term as SEC chair­per­son.

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