Outgoing SEC Commish’s Chief of Staff Named to Credit Rating Post

Ramarathnam, a staffer for Aguilar, takes a created role; Gallagher set to leave by Oct. 2

SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar’s chief of staff, Smeeta Ramarathnam, was name Tuesday to the newly created role of deputy director in the Office of Credit Ratings, which oversees ratings agencies. Commissioner Daniel Gallagher announced Friday that he will leave the Commission by Oct. 2.

The Securities and Exchange Commission was charged by the Dodd-Frank Act to establish the Office of Credit Ratings to enhance the regulation, accountability and transparency of nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSROs). The office, staffed with examiners, attorneys and accountants, examines each NRSRO at least annually and issues annual reports summarizing the essential findings of the examinations.

Ramarathnam, who begins her new role later this month, will provide leadership and direction for various office activities including examinations and monitoring of NRSROs, rulemaking and related initiatives. 

She has served as Aguilar’s chief of staff for the past seven years. The SEC is set to lose both Aguilar, a Democrat whose term is expiring, as well as Gallagher, a Republican.

Gallagher submitted his resignation to the White House in May, and said it would be effective “on the appointment of my successor.” In his Friday statement, Gallagher said that “over the succeeding months, the need to bring greater clarity to my tenure has steadily grown. As a result, I recently informed the president that I intend to leave the Commission on the earlier of the appointment of my successor or Friday, Oct. 2.”

He added: “It has been a great honor to serve on the Commission during such an important time.”

Gallagher’s term was to expire in 2016; Aguilar could stay on as a commissioner until December 2016.

No replacements for Gallagher or Aguilar were nominated by the White House before Congress broke for its August recess. David Tittsworth, the former president and CEO of the Investment Adviser Association, who’s now counsel with Ropes & Gray in Washington, sees those nominations coming by year-end. “For political reasons, it’s almost a sure bet that the White House will pair the nominations of the two people who are nominated — one Republican and one Democrat — to ensure a bipartisan outcome,” he says. “All SEC confirmation votes in the Senate have been by unanimous consent.”

Ramarathnam joined the SEC in 2005, and before her appointment to Commissioner Aguilar’s staff in 2008, she was counsel to Commissioner Roel Campos and senior counsel in the Office of the General Counsel and in the Division of Investment Management. 

Prior to that, she was an associate at a law firm and focused on investment company and investment advisor regulation and securities litigation. She also served as a law clerk to Judge Deborah Chasanow of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Ramarathnam received her B.A. with honors from Stanford University and her J.D. degree from Stanford Law School and is the immediate past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C., area.

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