* Sen. Vitter to block SEC nominees Aguilar, Gallagher
* Vitter frustrated with SEC over Stanford investor claims
* SEC has yet to take a position on SIPC coverage
* Vitter announcement comes after SEC confirmation hearing
(Adds comment from Johnson, Shelby and background)
By Dave Clarke and Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON, June 14 A U.S. senator plans to
temporarily block the confirmation of two Securities and
Exchange Commission nominees until the agency gives clarity on
whether Allen Stanford's alleged victims will get
David Vitter, a Republican, said victims of the Texas
financier's alleged $7 billion Ponzi scheme deserve a direct
answer on their request for coverage from an industry-backed
The SEC has said publicly it plans to issue a decision soon
but has not announced the exact timing.
Vitter's announcement came after the conclusion on Tuesday
of the Senate Banking Committee's confirmation hearing on SEC
commissioner nominees Luis Aguilar and Daniel Gallagher.
At the hearing, there were no indications of major
resistance to the nominees themselves. Both Senate Banking
Chairman Tim Johnson and Ranking Republican Richard Shelby said
they are hoping for a speedy confirmation.
Johnson said a committee vote was expected in the coming
weeks to send the nominations to the full U.S. Senate.
Vitter was not present at the confirmation hearing.
Aguilar, a Democrat, has been serving as a commissioner at
the SEC since 2008, filling a partial term. Daniel Gallagher, a
Republican, is currently a partner at law firm Wilmer Cutler
Pickering Hale and Dorr, and previously worked at the SEC in
different capacities from 2006 through 2010.
If confirmed, Gallagher would replace Republican SEC
Commissioner Kathleen Casey, whose 5-year term expires this
Their nominations come at a crucial time for the agency,
which is still working to rebuild public trust after missing
Bernard Madoff's massive fraud and working to implement nearly
100 new rules under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul law.
Vitter has been vocal about his concerns the SEC also
missed the alleged Stanford fraud and about delays in whether
victims should have their claims covered by the Securities
Investor Protection Corp, or SIPC.
The SIPC has said the investors in this case are not
eligible for coverage, but the investors have taken their
concerns to the SEC and asked the agency to weigh in.
"We've known for some time that the SEC waited far too long
to take action against Allen Stanford, and now they're dragging
their feet in responding to the victims," Vitter said in a
statement. "I will continue to hold them accountable --
including holding these nominations -- until these fraud
victims get an up-or-down answer from the SEC on SIPC."
Senator Shelby also said on Tuesday he was concerned about
the delay by the SEC, but did not go so far as to join in the
call for a hold against the nominees.
"The SEC's delay in making a decision is harming investors
who were already harmed by the SEC's failure to prevent the
Stanford fraud," he said in his opening remarks. "It is my hope
that the SEC will stop delaying and make a final decision as
quickly as possible."
In addition to the SEC nominees, the Senate Banking
Committee also considered two board nominees to SIPC on Tuesday
as well. A spokesman for Vitter said he has no plans to hold up
(Reporting by Dave Clarke and Sarah N. Lynch; editing by
Maureen Bavdek, Andre Grenon, Gary Hill)