The Bush administration is considering at least four candidates to head the regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, people familiar with the search have told Bloomberg.

 

Jonathan Fiechter, a deputy director at the International Monetary Fund; Edward DeMarco, assistant deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration; Mark Sullivan, the U.S. representative to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; and Steve McMillan, an adviser to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card; are among the candidates reported by Bloomberg today.

 

The Bush administration in May began seeking a new director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight while Stephen Blumenthal serves as acting director. Congress is currently debating legislation that would create a tougher regulator for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

 

In 2003, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight discovered accounting irregularities by Freddie Mac, leading to a massive re-audit and earnings restatement and internal probe, as well as a management shakedown.

 

OFHEO last year also uncovered accounting violations at fellow GSE Fannie Mae, setting off shareholder lawsuits and investigations by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. As a result, the company will have to restate earnings by as much as $12 billion.

 

In December 2004, Fannie Mae replaced Franklin Raines, its chairman and CEO, who announced he was taking early retirement, and Fannie Mae’s chief financial officer, Timothy Howard, resigned Dec. 21.

 

Anyone offered the OFHEO post “is going to have to ask themselves whether they want to take a job that may be overseeing the unwinding of” the agency, Josh Rosner, an analyst at Medley Global Advisors in New York, told Bloomberg.

 

Fiechter in 2003 joined the IMF as deputy director of the monetary and financial system department after three years as senior deputy comptroller at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and DeMarco, before joining the SSA in 2003, was director of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Institutions Policy, where he helped developed regulation toward Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Bloomberg said.

 

Freddie Mac, like sibling Fannie Mae, operates under congressional charter to buy mortgages from lenders and support housing markets.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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