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CFTC Commissioner to Join SEC as General Counsel

The United States government is trying to set an excellent regulatory policy for crypto. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will play a significant part in that effort. Now, the agency is getting some help in its endeavors.

This week, the SEC confirmed hiring Dan Berkovitz as its general counsel. Berkovitz is currently a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). He has held that position since 2018, so he has solid experience.

Interestingly, Berkovitz’s tenure at the CFTC lasts until 2023. But, he announced this month that he would leave in October. His departure came after President Biden chose Kristin Johnson and Christy Goldsmith Romero to fill two CFTC seats. 

However, the vacant seats had belonged to Brian Quintenz and former chairman Heath Tarbert. The White House hasn’t found a replacement for Berkovitz. But he will leave nonetheless.

The BitMEX Case

Crypto insiders have been looking to see how Berkovitz will approach crypto regulation. For now, he appears to be a mixed bag. Berkovitz criticized the CFTC recently after the agency imposed a $100 million fine against BitMEX.

BitMEX is a top crypto derivatives exchange and under SEC’s magnifying glass. The CFTC accused it of violating the Bank Secrecy Act, and both parties settled this month.

While that will make him seem pro-crypto, Berkovitz has also criticized decentralized finance (DeFi). In June, he spoke at a conference. His speech is “Climate Change and Decentralized Finance: New Challenges for the CFTC.” And, it includes harsh words for DeFi. For example, Berkovitz called DeFi illegal. He also asked regulators to ban it under the Commodities Exchange Act.

“Given the explosive growth of this sector, federal regulators should become familiar with this new technology and its potential uses and be prepared to protect the public against misuse,” Berkovitz said in part. So, it will be interesting to see the insights he brings to the SEC. The SEC has continued to remain on crypto enthusiasts’ wrong sides for quite a while.

SEC and the Controversy Over the Comptroller

The SEC isn’t the only agency that will change. Last week, President Biden nominated Saule Omarova to lead the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Office. Since then, many have opposed her nomination.

Omarova is a policy advocate. She also currently works as a professor at the Cornell University Law School. She has advocated for stricter rules on big banks and the crypto space. Thus, many crypto enthusiasts are wary of her nomination.

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For now, it is unclear whether Omarova’s nomination will pass. The crypto industry continues to wait.

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