March 6, 2013 / 1:16 AM / 5 years ago

Obama asks Gensler to serve second term at CFTC: source

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama has asked Gary Gensler to serve a second term as the head of the top U.S. derivatives regulator, a person familiar with the situation said, but Gensler has not yet decided if he will stay.

The 55-year-old Gensler would in any case remain the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) until his current term expires in December, the person said on Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

But Gensler, known for his aggressive implementation of a Wall Street overhaul, was also interested in a position elsewhere in the administration, said the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The CFTC declined to comment.

Gensler said in media interviews that his job at the CFTC was not finished and that he would continue to work on writing the new rules for the $650 trillion swaps market, required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

The Democratic victory in last year’s presidential election has changed the succession dynamics at the CFTC, scuppering chances of any Republican hopefuls. Commissioner Jill Sommers, a Republican, has since announced her departure.

Commissioner Mark Wetjen, a Democrat who worked for Senate majority leader Harry Reid, is seen as a possible successor to Gensler, should the latter leave.

Gensler took the helm of the CFTC in May 2009, helping the once sleepy futures regulator to take on massive new responsibilities for overseeing swaps, and working extensively with members of Congress to craft the new laws.

His aggressive involvement in the legislative process helped his agency win broad new powers to require over-the-counter swaps to be traded on regulated platforms and centrally cleared to help reduce the risk of a default.

It also won him some enemies among Republicans who complained that many of the rules he has championed could hurt companies that rely on swaps to help hedge their risks, such as interest-rate fluctuations or oil price moves.

During his time at the CFTC, Gensler presided over some of the highest-profile enforcement actions in the agency’s history.

The agency has played a leading role in investigating the Libor rate-rigging, raking in $257 million in fines last year from big banks and more than $1 billion so far in 2013.

However, Gensler’s tenure has also been marred by the collapse of MF Global in October 2011 and shortly afterward by that of Peregrine Financial Group, which went bust after the owner admitted he had perpetrated a 20-year fraud.

If Gensler is nominated for a second term and chooses to accept it, he would still need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. That could prove tricky if Republicans who oppose some of the CFTC’s policies decided to block a vote.

Additional reporting by Sarah Lynch; Editing by Ros Krasny, Phil Berlowitz and Chris Gallagher

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