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SEC names Thomas Butler to head of agency’s credit ratings office

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Friday that it has named former brokerage executive Thomas J. Butler to the position of director at the SEC’s Office of Credit Ratings.

Before joining the SEC, Butler, a Rutgers University Law School alumnus, worked for two major law firms and several financial services groups, including UBS Securities LLC and Babcock & Brown, Inc. Butler also worked for 14 years as a top executive at brokerage firm Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and, previously, Citi Global Wealth Management.

“Tom’s background and experience will bolster the agency’s oversight and review of credit rating agencies,” SEC Chairwoman Mary L. Schapiro said.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act established the Office of Credit Ratings, which is responsible for the oversight of nine Nationally Registered Statistical Rating Organizations. These agencies issue credit ratings used by the financial services industry for a variety of regulatory purposes.

Major credit-rating agencies have been blamed by lawmakers and investors alike for their role in the financial crisis, as many of these firms assigned high ratings to thousands of mortgage-related deals that later fell in value, ultimately serving to deepen the financial crisis.

The SEC is required to conduct annual examinations of each NRSRO followed by a public report. Prior to the creation of the SEC’s Office of Credit Ratings, credit agency examinations were the responsibility of the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations.

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