WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney who built a reputation prosecuting white-collar criminals, terrorists and mobsters, to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. The agency has a lead role in implementing changes on Wall Street.
Obama also named Richard Cordray to stay on as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The president used a recess appointment last year to bypass congressional opposition and install the former Ohio attorney general as head of the bureau. That appointment expires at the end of this year.
White spent nearly a decade as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, handling an array of white-collar crimes and complex securities and financial fraud cases. She brought down mobster John Gotti and won convictions in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
Obama said that experience makes White well-suited to implement legislation he championed to change the behavior on Wall Street.
White, 65, heads the litigation department at law firm Debevoise & Plimpton.
She was the first woman to hold the position of U.S. attorney in Manhattan, one of the most prestigious positions in federal law enforcement. During her tenure from 1993 to 2002, White won convictions of white-collar criminals, drug traffickers and international terrorists. The most notable conviction was Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
If confirmed by the Senate, White would be the first prosecutor to head the 79-year-old SEC.