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U.S. SEC enforcement head resigns after five days on the job
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WASHINGTON – Alex Oh, who last week became the first woman of color to lead the U.S. securities watchdog's enforcement division resigned on Wednesday due to potential conflicts of interest created by her previous work as a lawyer, according to the agency and a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
The unusual turn of events is a blow for new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair Gary Gensler, for whom Oh was among his first big hires, and underscores the challenges of filling top agency roles with Wall Street defense attorneys.
In her resignation letter to Gensler on Wednesday, shared with reporters, Oh said a "development" relating to one of her previous cases would be "an unwelcome distraction to the important work of the Division."
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The issue at hand relates to Oh's work defending Exxon Mobil Corp against a lawsuit in her previous role as partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to share the information.
The SEC is probing Exxon Mobil over asset valuation issues, according to a January report by the Wall Street Journal, and the matter could create a potential conflict of interest if Oh were to remain in the role, agency sources said. This issue came to the attention of SEC officials this week, the person said.
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