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Securities Law

Obama Sends Senate Formal Nomination of White to Serve as SEC Chair

President Obama has sent the Senate his formal nomination of securities litigator and former U.S. prosecutor Mary Jo White to serve as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission through June 5, 2019.

In the nomination, which he formally sent to the Senate on Thursday, Obama said he wants White to finish out the term of former chairman Mary Schapiro, which expires on June 5, 2014.

Then he wants to reappoint White for a full five-year term, expiring in 2019.

If confirmed by the Senate, White would replace Elisse Walter, who became chairman when Schapiro stepped down from her post in December. It is unclear how long Walter would stay at the SEC as a commissioner. Her term expired last June but she can stay through the end of the year until Congress goes out of session.

White, who heads Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s litigation department, has been a white-collar criminal defense attorney at the firm for 10 years and has represented high-profile clients like former Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis, who was charged with civil securities fraud by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

From 1993 to 2002, she was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where she prosecuted Omar Abdel Rahman, who conspired to bomb the United Nations, and Ramzi Yousef, who helped plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Earlier, White was first assistant U.S. Attorney and acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, helping convict mob boss John Gotti.

White was also a director of the Nasdaq stock exchange and worked at Debevoise two other times — in the 1970s and again in the 1980s. Her husband John White was director of the SEC’s division of corporation finance from 2006 to 2008.

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