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These former US regulators and lawmakers are advising crypto startups

Jay Clayton on Block Works
Thought Leader: Jay Clayton
July 20, 2023
Source: Block Works

Brian Brooks, a former regulator, has joined the board of directors at Hashdex, a crypto asset manager. This appointment represents another instance of a former regulator becoming an adviser to a crypto firm.

Brian Brooks has previously held similar positions after his tenure as the acting US comptroller of the currency from May 2020 to January 2021. As an independent bureau of the US Department of Treasury, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) ensures national banks are complying with various laws.

Brooks was the CEO of Binance.US for several months in 2021 before becoming the CEO of bitcoin mining company Bitfury that October. He later joined the board of Voyager Digital in December 2021 as an independent, non-executive director.

Brooks said in a statement at the time of joining Voyager that he would help the firm in “building out the platform for global scale and navigating the regulatory environment in the US and beyond.” But the company filed for bankruptcy roughly seven months later.

Now, as a strategic adviser to Hashdex, Brooks is set to sit on the council representing Valor Capital Group — an investor in Hashdex for which Brooks is a partner. He will help the firm bridge the gap between the crypto ecosystem and traditional finance, the company said Thursday.

Hashdex CEO Marcelo Sampaio added in a statement that “his proven ability to push forward thoughtful, innovation-driven public policy is much needed at this time.”

The Brazil-based firm offers a bitcoin futures ETF in the US and expanded to the European market for the first time in April.

Ex-SEC and CFTC leaders, former lawmakers now advising

Other crypto firms have filled advisory and executive roles with former regulators in the absence of a comprehensive crypto framework in the US.

Read more: Is the World Leaving America Behind on Crypto Regulation?

Jay Clayton, who was chair of the SEC from May 2017 to December 2020, joined the advisory board of crypto custody provider Fireblocks in August 2021.

He was brought aboard to “navigate evolving market and regulatory dynamics affecting the development and deployment of solutions for the emerging digital asset infrastructure,” Fireblocks said in a news release at the time.

Clayton also became an adviser to crypto venture capital firm Electric Capital in August 2022. Kevin Warsh, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors between 2006 and 2011, joined the company as an adviser at the same time.

The former SEC chair is among those targeted by Empower Oversight for allegedly having possible ties to crypto while regulating the space. Clayton told Blockworks last year he didn’t expect to be involved with crypto companies after he left the commission.

Clayton said during an interview with CNBC in April that crypto tokens deemed securities today might not be in the future — comments seeming to further complicate a turf war of sorts between the SEC and the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Ex-CFTC officials have also entered crypto advisory roles in recent years.

Chris Giancarlo, CFTC chair from August 2017 to July 2019, became a strategic adviser to crypto investment firm CoinFund in January 2022.

He is also in advisory and director roles at Nomura, Digital Asset, the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Baton Systems, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Former CFTC Commissioner Dawn Stump has been a strategic adviser for Solidus Labs since last August — joining Giancarlo and Brooks, as well as former SEC Commissioner Troy Paredes; ex-LabCFTC Director Daniel Gorfine; and Clara Chiu, a former innovation and licensing leader at the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.

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