Senate confirms Mary Jo White for the SEC

Mary Jo White said enforcement must be “bold and unrelenting.”
Mary Jo White said enforcement must be “bold and unrelenting.”

The Senate on Monday confirmed Mary Jo White as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, dismissing concerns about her close ties to the Wall Street banks she will now oversee.

White, a former federal prosecutor who spent the last decade defending JPMorgan Chase and other big banks, secured Senate approval by unanimous consent. White is expected to join the agency in the coming days, replacing Elisse B. Walter, who was running the SEC since the departure of Mary L. Schapiro in December.

Her arrival at the post comes at a time of transition for the SEC and the public markets it regulates. The agency is under pressure from Congress to complete new rules for Wall Street and take aim at financial fraud. It also must confront the growing world of high-frequency trading, a business that continues to confound the agency, and money market funds, which the SEC is seeking to rein in.


On Monday, industry groups applauded the Senate’s move. ‘‘Her long experience and notable accomplishments as an advocate for the public interest will serve her well in her new role as SEC chair,’’ Paul Schott Stevens, the chief executive of the Investment Company Institute, a trade group, said in a statement.

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White will recuse herself for one year from most matters involving former clients.

“It will be a high priority throughout my tenure to further strengthen the enforcement function of the SEC,’’ she said at her confirmation hearing last month. ‘‘It must be fair, but it also must be bold and unrelenting.’’