Meet newly confirmed SEC director Mary Jo White’s past clients

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed former New York City prosecutor Mary Jo White as the director of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the primary federal regulator of the securities industry. However, the Obama nominee has drawn sharp criticism in some corners for her work in private litigation with the powerful New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, where she first worked as an associate in 1976 and where she became partner in 2002 after her tenure as a U.S. attorney.

Before she was confirmed by the Senate, White was collecting $42,500 per month in retirement pay from the firm, which represents some of America’s most powerful corporations. The company recently converted that into a lump sum payment to White.

The Daily Caller has assembled a list of some of White’s personal clients during her time at the firm.

Former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

Former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis retained White in September 2009, one week prior to announcing his resignation from the bank amid fallout from a messy and controversial takeover of Merrill Lynch. Lewis was under investigation for allegedly concealing $16 billion in Merrill Lynch losses from his shareholders in order to gain approval for the merger.

In January 2010, the SEC announced that it would not file civil charges against Lewis. Shortly thereafter, then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued Lewis for fraud.

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb hired White in 2006 to review the drugmaker’s rejected settlement with Apotex. The disputed settlement, in which Bristol allegedly paid Apotex $40 million to delay its sale of a generic version of a drug for which Bristol held the patent, was blocked by state attorneys general and sparked a criminal antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice. The case was eventually settled in 2012.

Goldman Sachs leaker Rajat Gupta

In 2011, White represented former Goldman Sachs Director Rajat Gupta, who was on trial on federal insider trading charges after he allegedly leaked information from Goldman board meetings to a friendly hedge fund manager. Gupta was convicted in June of last year and sentenced to two years in prison.

JPMorgan Chase

White represented JPMorgan Chase against SEC charges that the company misled investors regarding the delinquency status of mortgage loans. JPMorgan settled with the SEC last November for $296.9 million.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently praised White’s nomination to head the SEC, saying, “she’s extremely capable, competent, bright tough. A perfect choice.”

White has said that she will recuse herself as SEC director from regulating JPMorgan, but only for approximately one year.

Morgan Stanley

White represented former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack when he was merely a top prospect to take the helm of the company, helping to squash an SEC insider trading investigation into one of Mack’s prior deals. An SEC investigator later said that he was told to suspend his investigation “for political reasons.”


White represented the Swiss bank UBS AG in its 2008 settlement with the SEC, two state attorneys general and other regulatory agencies. UBS agreed to buy back $19.4 billion in frozen securities and also pay a $150 million fine to the states of New York and Massachusetts in response to regulatory investigations.

Last December, UBS became the first “big global bank” in more than twenty years to have a subsidiary plead guilty to fraud, according to The New York Times.

White has said that she will recuse herself as SEC director from regulating UBS, but only for approximately one year.

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