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From Securities Regulation Daily, December 16, 2013

Wetjen elected CFTC Acting Chairman

By Mark S. Nelson, J.D.

The CFTC said late today that its remaining members had unanimously elected Commissioner Mark P. Wetjen to be the Commission’s acting chairman. Wetjen will take the reins at the CFTC when Chairman Gary Gensler’s term ends, said the CFTC’s statement.

Wetjen said he was honored to have been chosen acting chairman. “I thank my colleagues, Commissioners Chilton and O’Malia, for their support and look forward to working collaboratively to oversee the ongoing implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act and the continuation of the CFTC’s critical mission,” said Wetjen. He also thanked Chairman Gensler for his leadership after the 2008 financial crisis.

“The CFTC will be well served with Mark at the helm as it continues the important work of implementing financial reforms for the benefit of the public,” Chairman Gensler said.

Background. Wetjen grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, and then received an undergraduate degree from Creighton University before earning a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. Wetjen became a CFTC commissioner in October 2011 after working as senior staffer to the U.S Senate on financial services issues. Wetjen had a private legal practice prior to his Senate work.

GMAC appointment. Last week, the CFTC announced that Wetjen was to become the sponsor of the Commission’s Global Markets Advisory Committee (GMAC). The GMAC, created in 1998, is a forum in which participants discuss issues affecting U.S. firms doing business in global financial services markets.

“I look forward to engaging the members of the GMAC on a regular basis to foster dialogue and international cooperation on global issues facing customers, market participants, the CFTC, and foreign and domestic regulators,” Wetjen said. He succeeds outgoing CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton as the GMAC sponsor.

Nominee awaits hearing. President Barack Obama nominated Timothy G. Massad to be CFTC chairman last month. Wetjen’s election to the role of acting chairman comes at a key inflection point for the CFTC as it continues to implement its cross-border derivatives rules and it awaits confirmation of Massad to be its full time chairman.

Massad most recently led the government’s effort to wind-up of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that provided key industry support during the 2008 financial crisis.

Said President Obama, “Now, under Tim’s watch, not only have the banks that benefited from TARP repaid nearly every single dollar, but he has secured a positive return of nearly $30 billion to the American taxpayer.” The president noted Massad’s efforts to improve TARP and give the public access to reports of how the funds were spent. “And that's a commitment to transparency and openness that I know that he wants to continue at the CFTC,” added the president.

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