Stablecoin developer Circle has hired Heath Tarbert, the former chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), as its new chief legal officer and head of corporate affairs, according to a company announcement on Thursday.
Tarbert joins Circle, which is the company behind the USDC stablecoin, from trading firm Citadel Securities. He will replace Flavia Naves, general counsel at Circle, who announced her departure from the firm earlier this year.
“As we continue building a bridge between traditional finance and Web3, Heath’s perspective, legal acumen and global regulatory experience will help us advance the utility value of USDC worldwide,” said Jeremy Allaire, Circle’s co-founder and CEO, in the release.
Tarbert spent 18 months in the position of chairman at the CFTC, an agency that is angling for more oversight of digital assets.
Earlier this week, CFTC Chairman Rostin Benham said he supported efforts by the U.S. House of Representatives’ agriculture committee to provide the CFTC with additional authority to oversee digital assets. These remarks were made during a hearing on a draft bill on crypto market structure that was introduced by Patrick McHenry, the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and Glenn Thompson, the chair of the House Agriculture Committee, last week.
However, Benham warned that implementing new rules could take up to four years without additional resources being provided to the agency to help them implement this new authority.
Tarbert will be thrown in at the deep end at Circle as he joins the crypto industry at a contentious time as U.S. regulators crack down on crypto companies. Earlier this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges against crypto heavyweights Binance and Coinbase.
“I’ve long been intrigued by both Jeremy Allaire’s vision of moving money safely at internet speed and Circle’s tangible accomplishments as a respected, trusted global leader in payments with a regulatory-first approach,” said Tarbert in the release. He will be focusing on helping Circle pursue its global growth strategy.
Tarbert is just one of the many CFTC commissioners to join crypto firms after leaving the agency. Former CFTC Commissioner Christopher Giancarlo went on to make a name for himself as “CryptoDad,” even writing a book with that title. He’s provided advisory services to several crypto startups including CoinFund and Digital Asset.
Former CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz joined Andreessen Horowitz as head of policy and former CFTC lawyer Ryan Millner and former CFTC Commissioner Mark Wetjen worked for collapsed crypto exchange FTX.
Nonprofit organization and financial services industry watchdog Better Markets highlighted this cozy relationship between the regulator and industry within its report on FTX.
“The CFTC is the smallest and least funded financial regulator. Crypto believed it would be the easiest to capture, dominate, manipulate, and keep defanged,” said Dennis Kelleher, Better Markets’ co-founder, president and CEO, in the report. “Confirming that view, the CFTC has been only too happy to join the industry in what is little more than a transparent jurisdiction-expanding power grab.”