Alex Oh resigned from her position as Chief Enforcement Officer at the US Securities and Exchange Commission a few days after taking office because of criticism of her work as a corporate defender.
The SEC failed to mention the reasons for Oh’s resignation in a statement released last week.
Oh, however, reportedly resigned after District Judge Royce Lamberth issued an order Monday calling into question his practice in a statement in a lawsuit filed against ExxonMobil Wall Street Journal.
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Attorney Melissa Hodgman will reapply the role of acting director of the SEC’s enforcement division, the agency said.
“Given the time and attention it will take, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot address this development without adding an undesirable distraction to the department’s important work,” said Oh’s resignation letter.
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 Politically.
Indonesian citizens alleged that ExxonMobil security personnel had committed human rights abuses in Indonesia, alleging 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 responsible for recruiting soldiers to protect natural gas facilities in Indonesia.
The lawsuit also alleged that an Asia-based ExxonMobil attorney used a “script” to nonchalantly answer questions that were preventing plaintiffs’ attorneys from obtaining information.
Alex Oh / IMgen: Via Who’s Legal
On Monday, Judge Lamberth ordered ExxonMobil to bring in a witness to re-answer each of these questions and ordered Oh to explain why he should not be fined for participating in the deposit. A person familiar with the matter related this Wall Street Journal that SEC officials spoke to Oh after the judge gave the order.
SEC chairman Gary Gensler was later criticized for hiring Oh, a corporate attorney, to run one of the most powerful agencies in the country, according to Politico.
Stakeholders, including Demand Progress and the Revolving Door Project, sent Gensler a letter 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 he built a defense career against.” They asked Gensler to reconsider his hiring decision and instead appoint a lawyer “who is demonstrably service-minded and has no shortage”.
Following the backlash, Paul Kariss defended President Brad Karp Oh, stating, “Alex is a person of the highest integrity and an accomplished professional with a strong code of ethics.”
Oh has been a corporate lawyer at Paul Weiss for 20 years. During that time, she represented Fortune 100 companies prosecuted by the prosecution, including Bank of America and Pfizer.
Oh, and the SEC didn’t immediately respond to the request for comment from .