UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate eyes early June vote on nominees for swaps regulator

Thu May 22, 2014 3:48pm EDT

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By Douwe Miedema and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON May 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate aims to vote to confirm three candidates to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in early June, a senior Democratic aide said on Thursday, to fill a leadership gap at the futures and swaps regulator.

The agency played a crucial role in reforming financial markets after the 2007-2009 credit crisis, bringing largely unregulated swaps trading by Wall Street giants such as Bank of America and JPMorgan under its control.

But the normally five-strong commission is down to two members, one Democrat and one Republican, impeding its ability to make major decisions.

One of President Barack Obama's three nominees for the CFTC is the agency's prospective chairman, Timothy Massad, a lawyer who oversaw the U.S. government's $700 billion bank bailout program at the Department of the Treasury.

Chris Giancarlo, a senior official at derivatives broker GFI in New York, and Sharon Bowen, a New York lawyer who also heads the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), are the others.

A Senate panel overseeing the CFTC in April approved the trio. Bowen was the only to draw a single "no" vote, from a senator supporting the Securities and Exchange Commission in a legal fight against SIPC.

Chaired by Bowen, SIPC has denied a request from victims of the $7 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Allen Stanford, who is serving a 110-year prison sentence, and the SEC to launch a legal procedure to get a pay-out.

Under a new rule, it only takes a simple majority of the 100-member Senate to end procedural delays holding up nominations. Previously, at least 60 votes were needed. As a result, Democrats can now push through more of Obama's nominees for government agencies. (Reporting by Douwe Miedema and Richard Cowan; Editing by Eric Beech and Paul Simao)