Wetjen said to face vote as acting CFTC head replacing Gensler

Wetjen is a former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner Mark P. Wetjen is poised to be voted acting chairman of the top U.S. derivatives regulator within days, according to two people with knowledge of the process.

Wetjen, a Democrat and former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, would be elected by fellow commissioners to succeed Gary Gensler on an interim basis, said the people, who spoke about the process on condition of anonymity. Timothy Massad, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Gensler, has not had a Senate confirmation hearing. Gensler must leave the agency when his term expires at the end of the year.

The agency, which was empowered by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to bring oversight of swaps traded by firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., is in a period of transition. The commission, which is designed to have five members, could dwindle to as few as two next year.

J. Christopher Giancarlo, an executive at New York-based GFI Group Inc., has been nominated to succeed Jill E. Sommers, a Republican who stepped down in July. Giancarlo also has yet to have a confirmation hearing. Bart Chilton, a Democratic member of the CFTC, has said he plans to step down soon from the agency.

The Senate Agriculture Committee, which has oversight of the CFTC, is not planning to hold confirmation hearings until next year. Meanwhile, the president has yet to nominate a replacement for Chilton’s seat.

If elected, Wetjen would “have a steady hand during the transition period before we have a new permanent chairman,” Chilton said in a telephone interview.

Chilton, who was planning to step down by the end of this year, may stay longer than expected.

“I’ve been asked by several lawmakers to assist in the transition,” he said. “To the extent circumstances allow me to stick around, I’m pleased to do so.”

Steve Adamske, CFTC spokesman, did not immediately comment.

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