Top white-collar crime prosecutor getting SEC job

President Barack Obama announces he will nominate Mary Joe White to lead the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and re-nominate Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a role that he has held for the last year under a recess appointment. Enlarge photo

Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

President Barack Obama announces he will nominate Mary Joe White to lead the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and re-nominate Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a role that he has held for the last year under a recess appointment.

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.

Id say thats a pretty good run. You dont want to mess with Mary Jo, Obama said at the White House. As one former SEC chairman said, Mary Jo does not intimidate easily, and thats important because shes got a big job ahead of her.