US President Barack Obama Thursday sent a signal to Wall Street of his intention to get tough when he nominated a top terrorist prosecutor to head the financial industry's watchdog. He nominated former US attorney Mary Jo White to run the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), saying: "You don't want to mess with Mary Jo."
White won the convictions of followers of the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for their role in the 1998 bombing of two embassies in Africa, as well as convictions in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Under Obama, Congress has tightened rules governing the financial industry with a view to prevent another round of financial turmoil like the real estate bubble that collapsed in 2007 and caused a global recession.
"It's not enough to change the law, we also need cops on the beat to enforce the law," Obama said.
White, whose nomination must be confirmed in Congress, has more recently worked in private practice defending the sort of financial gurus that the SEC is supposed to oversee. In fact, the SEC has come under fire for failure to regulate the industry.
While some critics raised the question of conflict of interest, White signalled her intention to get serious. "The SEC has a lot of hard and important work ahead of it," the 65-year-old lawyer said.
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