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SEC Said to Weigh EX-CFTC Director as General Counsel

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Elisse Walter may hire as her top lawyer a former enforcement director from the main U.S. derivatives regulator.

Geoffrey Aronow, a partner at law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP, has been interviewed by Walter and is the leading candidate to become the agency’s general counsel, according to three people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the hiring process isn’t public.

Aronow would replace Mark Cahn, who is stepping down in January. As the chief lawyer at the agency, the general counsel plays a central role evaluating rules, advising the chairman and representing the SEC in legal disputes.

SEC spokesman John Nester declined to comment. Aronow didn’t respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.

A graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School, Aronow was director of enforcement at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1995 to 1999, according to his biography on Bingham McCutchen’s website. He also serves on panels for appeals of enforcement and disciplinary cases by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the brokerage industry’s self-regulator, the biography said.

Some of Aronow’s recent clients include accounting firm KPMG LLP, whose Chinese affiliate is in a dispute with regulators over its refusal to turn over audit documents, and Christine Serwinski, who was chief financial officer at MF Global Holdings Ltd.’s North American broker-dealer before it collapsed in 2011.

Aronow “would adapt extremely well to the role of regulator,” said Daniel Nathan, a partner at the Morrison & Foerster law firm who was his deputy at the CFTC. “He would be a perfect choice.”

Walter, who became chairman after Mary Schapiro left last week, is moving to fill a number of high-level vacancies at the securities regulator. Aronow would be her first outside hire; Walter named acting directors of the agency’s corporation finance and trading and markets divisions on Dec. 17.

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