Jill Sommers

CFTC Commissioner Jill Sommers

By Jim Kharouf

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Commissioner (CFTC) Jill Sommers will be the lead commissioner on the CFTC’s investigation into activities by MF Global Holdings Ltd., according to sources.

Calls to the CFTC’s press office were not immediately returned. Sommers was not immediately available to confirm the information.

Her responsibilities for the CFTC’s investigation are not immediately known, although typically, the CFTC’s enforcement division performs the day-to-day work, which is ultimately shared with the other departments within the agency.

The scope or focus of the agency’s inquiry is not publicly known at this point. At least two other agencies are reportedly involved – the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Securities and Exchange Commission. In past market investigations, such as Enron, the Department of Justice’s so-called “Fraud Task Force” helped coordinate the various agencies.  It is still unclear if that type of format will be used in the MF Global case.

Sommers took up the charge after CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler recused himself from the investigation of the firm due to a perceived conflict of interest. Gensler worked at Goldman Sachs, as did Jon Corzine, and Gensler had been a supporter of Corzine’s political career.

Sommers was sworn in as CFTC commissioner in 2007 and was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve a five-year second term in 2009. Sommers also serves as chair and designated federal official of the agency’s Global Markets Advisory Committee.

She has held a number of industry positions in her career. In 2005 she served as policy director and head of government affairs for the International Swaps and Derivatives Association.

Prior to that, Sommers worked in the government affairs office of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and focused on the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.

She began her career in Washington in 1991 as an intern for Sen. Robert Dole (R-KS), working in various capacities until 1995.  She later worked as a legislative aide for two consulting firms specializing in agricultural issues, Clark & Muldoon, P.C. and Taggart and Associates.

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