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Senate confirms Mary Jo White for SEC chief

Mary Jo White will be the first former prosecutor to head up the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White was confirmed by the Senate Monday to be the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. (ALEX WONG/AFP/Getty Images)

The Senate swiftly confirmed the nomination of Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, placing her in charge of implementing President Barack Obama's Wall Street reforms.

White, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan, was nominated to the position in January to replace Elisse B. Walter, who was running the SEC since Mary L. Schapiro left in December.

The Senate confirmed White in a voice vote despite some concerns about her close ties to Wall Street.

According to the Associated Press, while working as a US attorney in Manhattan, White won convictions in two major terrorism cases, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 terrorist attacks on two US embassies in Africa.

She also won high-profile fraud cases in New York, and famously brought down mafia kingpin John Gotti, who headed the Gambino crime syndicate.

"So I'd say that's a pretty good run," President Obama said in January. "You don't want to mess with Mary Jo."

She left the office to join the prominent New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton where she defended clients including JP Morgan Chase and former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis.

Senators questioned White about her ability to run the SEC while going up against former clients from Wall Street. 

According to CNN, White said she would "recuse" herself from any cases where she felt there was a conflict of interest, in compliance with federal ethics guidelines.

"The American public will be my client, and I will work as zealously as possible on behalf of them," White told the Senate Banking Committee.

AFP contributed to this report.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130408/senate-confirms-mary-jo-white-sec-chief