The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Obama nominates Bowen for the CFTC

Sharon Bowen

Sharon Bowen
President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced his intention to nominate Sharon Y. Bowen to succeed Bart Chilton as a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Farm groups had urged the White House to appoint someone with the agricultural expertise that Chilton had.

Bowen, a New York lawyer, does not have that experience, but is acting chairman of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, an organization chartered by Congress to act as trustee or work with an independent court-appointed trustee in missing asset cases to recover funds.

On November 6, SIPC applauded the work of trustees in the MF Global Inc. case when the bankruptcy court approved the allocation of about $305 million from the MF Global estate to pay back commodity customers, including farmers, by the end of the year.

SIPC noted that all U.S. and overseas commodities customers will receive a 100 percent return of their customer property, according to James W. Giddens, trustee for the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) liquidation of MF Global.

Bowen, a Democrat like Chilton, has served on the SIPC board since 2010, and received Senate confirmation for the position. The CFTC post also requires Senate confirmation.

Obama has already nominated Timothy Massad, a Treasury official, as chairman to succeed Gary Gensler and J. Christopher Giancarlo, a manager at brokerage services company GFI Group, to replace Jill Sommers, who left earlier this year.

If all the nominees are confirmed, the CFTC would have a full five commissioners. The remaining commissioners are Mark Wetjen, a Democrat who will be acting chairman when Gensler leaves at the end of the year, and Scott O’Malia, a Republican.

Bowen is a partner in the New York office of the law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP, which she joined in 1988. From 1982 to 1988, Bowen was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

She has served on the boards of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning.

According to biographical information on the Latham & Watkins website, she also serves as on the boards of Northwestern Law School board and UrbanAmerica, Inc., and on the executive committee of PENCIL, a group working to improving public education.

Bowen received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Virginia in 1978, a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in 1982, and a masters of business administration degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, also in 1982.

According to her firm’s website, Bowen “represents corporations, private equity firms, financial and institutional clients on a broad range of corporate, finance and securities transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, private equity, strategic alliances, securities offerings, corporate restructurings, distressed debt and asset acquisitions, venture capital financings and corporate governance matters.”

The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), the Latham & Watkins entry notes, “serves to restore funds to investors with assets in the hands of bankrupt and financially troubled brokerage firms.”

Bowen has been selected as one of America’s top black lawyers by Black Enterprise and was a member of the 2008 DirectWomen Board Institute, a collaboration between Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that expands opportunities for women and business, and the American Bar Association section designed to develop and support the placement of female lawyers on corporate boards of major public companies.

She was also recognized by the Metropolitan Black Bar Association as its 2006 “lawyer of the year” and received the New York City Bar Association’s 2007 Diversity Champion Award and the New York State Bar Association's 2011 Diversity Trailblazer Award.