* Obama expected to nominate two new people soon
* Lawyer Sharon Bowen mentioned as possible Chilton
* Gensler's last day in office is Jan. 3
* Massad still seen as likely successor to Gensler
By Douwe Miedema
WASHINGTON, Nov 6 President Barack Obama is
expected to soon fill two top roles at the U.S. derivatives
regulator, people working closely with the agency said, to
prevent a leadership vacuum from blocking crucial Wall Street
Bart Chilton, a Democratic member of the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission, took policy watchers by surprise this week
when he said he was leaving, creating a third gap among the
agency's five decision makers.
Sharon Bowen, a partner at law firm Latham & Watkins in New
York, is being vetted as a successor, three of the people said,
and her name and that of a successor to Chairman Gary Gensler
are expected to come out soon.
"I've heard that it could be later this week or next week,"
one of the people said, referring to both positions, and asking
not to be named so as to speak more freely.
The White House declined to comment.
The changes at the top of the CFTC come as regulators are
putting the finishing touches on a fundamental overhaul of
investment banking after the 2007-09 financial crisis.
The CFTC, once a sleepy agency best known for overseeing
wheat, soy and other agriculture futures, saw its powers vastly
expanded after the credit collapse, when it was put in charge of
the $630 trillion global swaps market.
Bowen, acting chair of the board of directors of the
Securities Investor Protection Corporation, the body that
recovers funds to investors when brokerage firms go bankrupt,
did not return a request for comment.
She has already been confirmed by the Senate in her role at
SIPC, which might make it easier for her to go through the
process if Obama nominates her at the CFTC.
A consensus that Timothy Massad - a senior official at the
Treasury Department - was the most likely person to replace
Gensler has grown from when his name first came out in the New
York Times last month, the people said.
GENSLER STAYS LONGER
But in a new twist, Gensler will stay until Jan. 3, 2014, a
few weeks longer than first assumed, because he will use up the
maximum extent of time he is allowed under the agency's rules,
CFTC Commissioner Scott O'Malia said.
"I suspect the White House will nominate two people very
soon," O'Malia told Reuters in an interview. "Gary says he's
staying until Jan. 3," he also said.
Gensler did not return a request for comment.
The assumption was first that Gensler would leave in the
middle of December, when Congress leaves for the holidays. But
he is allowed to stay on until Congress formally ends its
current session, which will be on Jan. 3.
In the remaining weeks in his job, Gensler plans to finish
the Volcker rule, one of the most complex pieces of the 2010
Dodd-Frank law to overhaul Wall Street, which bans banks from
betting with their own money.
He also needs to sort out how U.S. rules for complex
derivative trades apply abroad, the source of a lingering
conflict with Europe and other regions, as well as a range of
smaller new rules to reform trading.
Massad will leave his post as assistant secretary for
financial stability at the Treasury later this year, a Treasury
official said last month. Massad declined to comment for this
story through a spokesman.
Chris Giancarlo, a senior manager at New-York based
derivatives broker GFI Group, still has to be confirmed
by the Senate after Obama nominated him to fill a third,
Republican, position at the CFTC.
Such appointments at federal agencies are normally guided
through Congress as packages of Democrats and Republicans to
prevent partisan strife.