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May 7, 2014

Mary Jo White Doesn’t Scare Anybody

“Last year, when President Obama named Mary Jo White as his pick to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, he cast the nomination as a shot across the bow of Wall Street wrong-doers. ‘It’s not enough to change the law,’ he said. ‘We also need cops on the beat to enforce the law.’

“The line was a reference to White’s decade-long stint as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In that job, she was known for unflinching prosecutions of, among other high-profile defendants, mobster John Gotti and the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. And, indeed, since moving from prosecutor to regulator, White has sought more admissions of wrongdoing in the agency’s settlements of financial misconduct cases than did Obama’s first SEC chair, Mary Schapiro. In last year’s case of a money manager who improperly borrowed $113 million from a hedge fund to pay his personal taxes, White rejected the settlement negotiated by SEC staff because it did not include an admission of wrongdoing, which the commission later obtained.

“Which is why it might seem strange that, one year into White’s tenure in one of the government’s most important regulatory posts, many of those on Wall Street and in corporate corner offices are breathing a sigh of relief. It turns out that being a tough enforcer of the rules is different from being a hard-minded conceiver of the rulesespecially when it comes to bringing more transparency and accountability to corporate management, something that may be as important as wringing convictions from bad guys.

“At a time when the country could sorely use big-picture reforms in corporate law, White is largely taking a pass.”

***

Read full New Republic article here

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