SEC nominee Clayton to commit to rooting out fraud

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jay Clayton, President Donald Trump’s nominee to chair the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, plans to promise lawmakers at his confirmation hearing on Thursday not to shy away from going after fraudsters.

“I am 100 percent committed to rooting out any fraud and shady practices in our financial system,” said Clayton, according to excerpts of his prepared testimony seen by Reuters.

“I recognize that bad actors undermine the hard-earned confidence that is essential to the efficient operation of our capital markets. I pledge to you and the American people that I will show no favoritism to anyone,” he added.

Clayton, a partner at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell who Trump picked to head the federal regulator that polices and writes rules for Wall Street, is slated to face the Senate Banking Committee for his confirmation hearing on Thursday morning.

His comments about fighting fraud are going to be particularly important to progressive Democrats on the panel, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, who have publicly questioned whether his Wall Street ties and work for clients including Goldman Sachs GS.N could lead him to be weak on enforcement.

Warren, along with two other liberal U.S. Senators, is planning to publicly announce her opposition to Clayton’s nomination at a rally outside of the U.S. Capitol later on Wednesday.

Despite her concerns, Clayton, an independent, is expected to be easily confirmed and may win some votes from Democrats as well.

As an attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell, Clayton has represented many companies, including some Wall Street banks. His primary focus has been working to help them raise them capital, either privately or through initial public offerings.

That legal expertise, coupled with the Trump administration’s pledge to scale back or repeal rules that may be hindering economic growth, have led many to expect that Clayton will largely focus on finding ways to help companies raise capital during his SEC tenure.

Clayton plans to address this topic at his hearing on Thursday as well.

“It is clear that our public capital markets are less attractive to business than in the past,” he said in his prepared remarks.

“As a result, investment opportunities for Main Street investors are more limited. Here, I see meaningful room for improvement.”

The excerpts did not go into any details about the kinds of reforms Clayton might be interested in exploring if confirmed as SEC chairman.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Tom Brown