SEC Executive Director Alex Oh resigned from her role after being reviewed for her role in an ExxonMobil lawsuit.
Grow your business,
Not your inbox
Stay up to date and subscribe to our daily newsletter now!
3 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
Alex Oh resigned from her role as SEC executive director just days after taking office for criticizing her work as a corporate defense attorney.
The SEC did not give any reasons for Oh's resignation in a statement released on Wednesday.
Oh, however, allegedly resigned after District Judge Royce Lamberth issued an order Monday challenging her practice on a deposit in a lawsuit against ExxonMobil, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Related Topics: SEC extends the rule for accredited investors
Attorney Melissa Hodgman will return to the role of acting director of the SEC's enforcement division, the agency said.
"Given the time and attention it will take to do this, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot address this development without it distracting undesirably the important work of the department," said Oh's letter of resignation.
Oh is part of a legal team at Paul Weiss, the law firm defending ExxonMobil in a class action lawsuit filed in 1999 by attorneys representing 11 Indonesian citizens, Politico said.
Indonesian citizens alleged that ExxonMobil security personnel had committed human rights abuses in Indonesia and alleged that the oil company should be held responsible for the murder and torture perpetrated by the Indonesian military during the 1999-2001 riots. Plaintiffs specifically alleged that the company should be held liable for hiring soldiers to guard natural gas facilities in Indonesia.
The lawsuit also alleged that an Asia-based ExxonMobil attorney used a "script" to answer questions in an unresponsive manner, which prevented plaintiffs' attorneys from obtaining information.
On Monday, Judge Lamberth ordered ExxonMobil to have a witness who would answer each of these questions again and ordered Oh to explain why she should not be sanctioned for her involvement in the deposit. A person familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal that SEC officials spoke to Oh after the judge gave the order.
SEC chairman Gary Gensler was then criticized for hiring Oh, a corporate attorney, to head one of the most powerful agencies in the country, Politico said.
Stakeholders including Demand Progress and the Revolving Door Project sent a letter to Gensler Tuesday saying they were "surprised and disappointed" with his decision to hire them. In the letter, the groups questioned Oh's ability to "enforce the very laws and regulations that she has built a career as a defender against". They urged Gensler to reconsider his hiring decision and instead appoint an attorney "with a proven track record in public-facing service that is no shortage."
Following the backlash, Paul Weiss chairman Brad Karp defended Oh, claiming, "Alex is a person of the utmost integrity and an accomplished professional with a strong ethical code."
Oh has been a corporate lawyer at Paul Weiss for 20 years. During that time she represented Fortune 100 companies facing government allegations, including Bank of America and Pfizer.
Oh, and the SEC didn't immediately respond to Enterpreneur.com's request for comment.