Trump Picks Trading Firm Founder Vincent Viola For Army Secretary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Virtu Financial founder Vincent Viola as secretary of the Army, the Trump transition team said on Monday.

 

Viola is a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran who has founded companies, including the high-frequency trading firm Virtu Financial. He is a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange, where he began his financial services career, and is a leader in electronic trading, according to his company biography.

 

“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” Trump was quoted as saying in a transition team statement.

 

After the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, Viola helped found the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

 

Born to Italian immigrant parents in Brooklyn, Viola was the first in his family to attend college. He trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division, the transition team statement said.

 

”If confirmed, I will work tirelessly to provide our president with the land force he will need to accomplish any mission in support of his National Defense Strategy,” Viola said in the statement. “A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.”

 

Trump met with Viola on Friday as the Republican president-elect considers candidates for top posts in his administration, which begins on Jan. 20. Trump has yet to nominate people for Cabinet positions including secretaries of agriculture and veterans affairs and the U.S. trade representative.

 

In 2014, Virtu Financial received a letter of inquiry from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as part of a wider probe of high-speed trading firms that came amid heightened attention to such trading after the publication of author Michael Lewis’ book “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.”

 

Virtu ended up postponing its initial public offering that year as it awaited regulatory approval. The firm was never charged with anything and has always backed more regulation for trading and market making.

 

Viola, along with Virtu CEO Douglas Cifu, bought the Florida Panthers professional hockey team in 2013.

 

If Viola is confirmed as secretary of the Army, his ownership stake in the Panthers would be placed in a trust, while Cifu would take over Viola’s role as chairman and governor of the team’s parent company Sunrise Sports and Entertainment, the Panthers said in a statement. Cifu currently has the role of vice chairman and alternate governor of the club. (Additional reporting by Herb Lash in New York; Editing by Bill Trott and Andrea Ricci)

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