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US lawmakers on Tuesday approved Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton.

The US Senate voted 61-37 to confirm Mr Clayton, a veteran securities lawyer who has spent his career at white-shoe law firm Sullivan & Cromwell representing some of the most prominent names in finance, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. He has also worked on Alibaba’s 2014 IPO, then the largest in history.

His work with corporate giants, however, drew flak during the confirmation hearing from Democrats, including senator Elizabeth Warren who questioned whether his past client relationships could prompt him to step aside from major enforcement actions involving his former clients and others represented by his firm, leaving the commission short-handed.

Republicans, however, cheered the prospect of having someone with Mr Clayton’s familiarity with Wall Street leading the US securities regulator, saying he would bring his experience to bear in improving and policing US capital markets.

Mr Clayton’s confirmation will also bring the SEC a step closer to operating at its full five-commissioner capacity. Prior to Mr Clayton’s confirmation, only two commissioners were in place.

Mr Clayton said in a statement:

“It is a distinct honor to be confirmed by the US Senate as the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. I look forward to working closely with my fellow Commissioners and the dedicated career staff at the SEC to serve the American public and advance the SEC’s important mission.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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