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Trump's pick for FBI chief could face conflicts of interest

NEW YORK: United States President Donald Trump's pick for Federal Bureau of Investigation chief, corporate lawyer Christopher Wray, would likely face conflicts of interest at the agency.

He has done defence work for many big companies and be forced to step aside from some investigations, legal ethics experts said on Wednesday.

While he spent many years as a government attorney earlier in his career, for the past 12 years, Mr Wray has been a white-collar defence lawyer with the Atlanta-based firm of King & Spalding.

He is currently head of its government investigations practice.

"If there are investigations of a client he'd need to recuse himself," Mr Steven Lubet, a legal ethics professor at Northwestern University, said.

According to King & Spalding's website, clients of the practice led by Mr Wray include AT&T, Deutsche Bank, CVS Caremark, General Motors, Wells Fargo and others. It was not clear if Mr Wray personally represented all of the companies listed.

Ms Kathleen Clark, a professor at Washington University School of law, said professional ethics rules would specifically bar Mr Wray as FBI director from participating in investigations of former clients who shared confidential information with him.

In addition, she said, federal regulations would prohibit him from participating in matters opposite King & Spalding for up to two years, though the government can waive those restrictions.

The FBI referred a call on the matter to the Justice Department, which did not respond. - REUTERS

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