WASHINGTON Nov 7 Timothy Massad, the Treasury
official who leads the U.S. bank bailout program, is about to be
selected as the new chair of the country's derivatives
regulator, a source familiar with the matter said.
In nominating Massad as chairman of the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission, President Barack Obama would pick someone
who has earned his spurs during the 2007-09 financial crisis as
head of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.
The nomination would be a last-minute solution to avoid a
leadership vacuum at the CFTC, which saw its powers vastly
expanded after the crisis, when it was put in charge of the $630
trillion swaps market.
The Treasury declined comment. The White House did not
immediately return a request for comment. If nominated, Massad
would still need to be confirmed by Congress.
Chairman Gary Gensler's term at the agency finishes on Jan.
3 of next year, but the agency still faces a big task in
finishing many of the rules under the 2010 Dodd-Frank act to
reform Wall Street's investment banks.
An earlier contender for the job, Amanda Renteria, a former
chief of staff for Senator Debbie Stabenow, the head of the
Senate Agriculture Committee, withdrew her name in July, saying
she was returning to California.
The last-minute search risked leaving the CFTC rudderless
just as it starts overseeing vast new markets and is rushing to
write crucial new regulations such as the Volcker rule, which
bars banks from gambling with their own money.
The Treasury said last month that Massad would leave his
post later this fall, although without elaborating. Because he
is already in a senior government position, lobbyists said at
the time that any vetting process could move quickly.
Massad was a partner at New York-based law firm Cravath,
Swaine & Moore LLP for 17 years. While on leave from the firm in
late 2008 and early 2009, he was also a special legal adviser to
a congressional panel on economic stability.
He joined the Treasury in May 2009 as the chief counsel for
the Office of Financial Stability.
Massad took over the TARP program three years ago, and has
been working most recently to unwind investments the Treasury
made during the financial crisis.
TARP, enacted in October 2008, was used to prevent a
collapse of the U.S. financial system. It injected capital into
hundreds of banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc,
Citigroup Inc and Bank of America Corp and was
used to bailout insurer American International Group Inc
Obama was also expected to soon fill another top role at the
agency, lobbyists and other agency watchers said this week,
after Democratic Commissioner Bart Chilton unexpectedly
announced his departure at a meeting this week.
Sharon Bowen, a partner at law firm Latham & Watkins in New
York, was being vetted as a successor and her name and Massad's
would be made public soon, these people said.
Chris Giancarlo, a senior manager at New-York based
derivatives broker GFI Group Inc, still has to be
confirmed by the Senate after Obama nominated him to fill a
third, Republican, position at the CFTC.