Monday, January 28, 2013

(Opinion) SEC Nomination: Mary Jo White is not the best pick to police Wall Street

Hiring people to take up difficult positions will always be a challenge, no less when you’re picking a nominee to be the head of the SEC, but it would help if the nominee didn’t butter their bread by defending the very characters they are about to be tasked to hold to account. It would be wrong to say that Mary Jo White is beholden to the interests of  Wall street, but a considerable portion of her resume suggest that may be true.

Before the case can be made for White being a poor pick for the SEC post, it would be wise to point out why she is up the consideration in the first place. Mary Jo White is an accomplished prosecutor who had prosecuted infamous mobster John Gotti and the terrorists involved in the first attack against the World Trade Center[1].

However the real problem lies not with who she has prosecuted but who she has defended. In her time in the private sector, White had defended major figures on Wall street including “Kenneth Lewis, the former chairman and chief executive of Bank of America, and John Mack, who held the top job at Morgan Stanley”[2]. White also defended (inexpicably) “nine independent directors” of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in the middle of the phone hacking scandal in 2011[3].

Why White’s background matters so much is that after five years since that financial crisis that brought the country to its knees, no CEO or chief executive has seen the inside of a jail cell and with the nomination of a former director of the Nasdaq  for the position of leader of the SEC, an organisation seen by many to be soft touch, the prospects for change are slim[4].
Long standing issues in American politics come to the fore such as the revolving between the private and public sector, for which White’s accomplished career serves as a prime example.  This is why David Sirota in Salon notes that :

“With this revolving door spinning so fast,… it has created a culture whereby prosecutors and SEC officials have an incentive not to enforce the law. Simply put, if you know your next lucrative job is on Wall Street, you aren’t all that interested in prosecuting Wall Street, because that might limit your private-sector career prospects”.

In sum, Mary Jo White has had a sterling career in both public and private sectors but her involvement in both and her probable ascent into a key role in regulating the US financial industry leaves much to be desired when she will go to battle against Wall street figures.

[1] D. Rushe, 2013, Mob Prosecutor Mary Jo White to be nominated to lead SEC,
[2] J. Cassidy, 2013, Two reasons why mary jo white is a bad choice for the SEC,
[3] K.Rushton. 2011. Phone hacking: News Corp hires former US attorney general to fight lawsuits,
[4] D. Rushe, 2013, Mob Prosecutor Mary Jo White to be nominated to lead SEC,

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...