UPDATE 2-U.S. Treasury official steps down, could head CFTC

Fri Oct 4, 2013 5:25pm EDT

By Margaret Chadbourn

WASHINGTON Oct 4 (Reuters) - Timothy Massad, the U.S. Treasury official who leads the country's bank bailout program, is stepping down from his job and is reportedly being vetted to become the next head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Gary Gensler, the current CFTC chairman, ends a five-year term at the top U.S. derivatives regulator at the end of the year.

Financial industry lobbyists and people inside the agency have been furiously speculating who would succeed him, and the New York Times reported on Thursday that President Barack Obama was vetting Massad as a candidate.

Massad will leave his post as assistant secretary for financial stability at the Treasury later this fall, a Treasury official said on Friday, without elaborating. At Treasury, he most recently oversaw the government's $700 billion Trouble Asset Relief Program, which was used to stabilize the banking system during the financial crisis.

The White House declined to comment on the New York Times report, while the CFTC could not be reached because of the shutdown of many U.S. government operations this week due to a budget standoff.

Amanda Renteria, a former chief of staff for Senator Debbie Stabenow, who heads the Senate Agriculture Committee, had been under consideration for the CFTC post, but withdrew her name in July, saying she was returning to California.

Since Massad is already in a senior government position, lobbyists said 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, Massad was special legal adviser to a congressional panel on economic stability.

He joined Treasury in May 2009 as the chief counsel for the Office of Financial Stability. He took the TARP program's helm three years ago and has been working most recently to unwind investments the Treasury made during the 2007-2009 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, Citigroup Inc and Bank of America Corp and was used to bailout insurer American International Group.

TARP funds have also been used to shore up the U.S. auto industry and assist homeowners who fall behind on their mortgages.

"Tim's skillful administration of TARP and management of its wind down has provided incredible benefits to the American economy," said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

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