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Senate confirms Massad as CFTC chairman

By Emily Stephenson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Timothy Massad as the new chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and approved two others as commissioners, filling a leadership gap at the nation's derivatives regulator.

The Senate confirmed Massad and industry veteran Chris Giancarlo by voice vote. Earlier on Tuesday, it voted 48-46 to approve New York lawyer Sharon Bowen.

The agency, which has played a key role in revamping market oversight after the 2007-2009 financial crisis, was down to just two commissioners. That limited its ability to make decisions as it implemented the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

"The commissioners confirmed today will not only help protect those markets but finish the implementation of reforms contained in the Wall Street reform act," said Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and head of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Massad, who oversaw the U.S. government's $700 billion bank bailout program at the Treasury Department, and Giancarlo, a senior official at derivatives broker GFI, faced no real opposition.

Bowen's confirmation was a closer call. That is because she also heads the Securities Investor Protection Corp, which is in a legal fight related to the $7 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Allen Stanford, who is now serving a 110-year prison sentence. The SIPC has denied a request from victims of the scheme for compensation, prompting a battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which wants the group to pay the victims.

Democrats defended her as a hardworking public servant committed to market transparency.

The three will join Mark Wetjen, a Democrat who acted as CFTC chairman while Massad awaited confirmation, and Republican Scott O'Malia.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Susan Heavey, Tom Brown and Steve Orlofsky)

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