Last week, SEC Commissioner Gary Gensler named corporate BigLaw partner Alex Oh as Director of Enforcement of the SEC. Oh’s nomination, especially in an agency tasked with holding Big Banks accountable, is deeply concerning given her history working for some of the worst corporate influences. Oh, who has served as a partner at the BigLaw firm Paul Weiss since 2004, has taken on clients with direct conflicts of interest including Big Banks, fossil fuel companies, and Big Pharma.
Here is a brief summary of Oh’s history working for corporate interests:
- Oh defended the Big Oil company Exxon Mobil against allegations of human rights abuses from Indonesian villagers. Oh defended Exxon Mobil against a lawsuit filed by Indonesian villagers who claimed that Exxon hired military security for their natural gas facilities who inflicted human rights abuses on the town. In the suit, the villagers used the Alien Tort Statute to sue over “heinous conduct” committed by Exxon’s agents that included rape, murder, and abductions. Oh argued that the suit should be thrown out for purely political reasons because it could implicate the contemporary President of Indonesia.
- Oh represented big banks in litigation stemming from their fraudulent behavior that caused the 2008 financial crisis. Oh represented UBS from a civil fraud lawsuit from the Department of Justice over their fraudulent sales of mortgage-backed securities, which directly contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. She also represented Bank of America in litigation regarding their merger with Merrill Lynch at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2012, Bank of America agreed to pay $2.43 to settle claims that it hid crucial information about Merrill Lynch’s losses and bonuses from shareholders when it bought the company in 2008.
- Oh represented Wall Street, fossil fuel companies, and multinational corporations facing SEC investigations. According to her (now removed) Paul Weiss biography, Oh represented corporate interests across industries facing investigations from the agency she is now joining, including several Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations and a “major financial institution in connection with a Congressional investigation of offshore tax shelters.”
- Oh represented Fannie Mae after they were caught deceiving investors and giving their own executives inflated bonuses. In 2006, Oh testified in front of the House Financial Services Committee during the investigation into Fannie Mae’s fraudulent accounting practices on Fannie Mae’s behalf. The same year, the Office Of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight found that senior executives at Fannie Mae manipulated accounting to collect millions of dollars in undeserved bonuses and deceive investors.
- Oh defended notorious Big Pharma companies in multiple lawsuits. She represented Pfizer, Inc. in a products liability trial over their hormone therapy drug that caused breast cancer. Pfizer faced over 10,000 claims from women alleging the drugs caused cancer, and eventually paid $896 million to resolve the claims. Oh also defended Big Pharma company Merck & Co. in a securities fraud class action litigation related to the sale of their anti-cholesterol drug Vytorin.
- Oh’s law firm, Paul Weiss, had a long history of exploiting the revolving door and working for Wall Street’s interests. Oh worked at the corporate law firm Paul Weiss from 2000 – 2021. Paul Weiss had a long relationship with the Wall Street bank Citigroup, representing them in cases surrounding their role in the Enron scandal and their practices that spurred the 2008 financial crisis. The firm also represented the Jeffrey Epstein-tied private equity firm Apollo, and the private equity giant Blackstone. The firm boasted of their connections to the Biden Administration, and recruited former executive branch officials, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to join the firm as partners.
- In her short stint in public service in the late 90s, Oh worked for Wall Street ally and revolver Mary Jo White. As Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1997-2000, Oh worked under notorious revolver Mary Jo White, who defended Big Banks like JPMorgan Chase before becoming SEC Commissioner in 2013. As Commissioner, White failed to meaningfully hold Wall Street accountable after the 2008 crisis. White left the SEC to immediately rejoin her corporate law firm, where she fights SEC regulation on behalf of fintech companies including Ripple Labs, Inc.
PHOTO: “NYC – Financial District – NYSE (panoramic)” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0