CFTC poaches Pantera Capital’s legal counsel, citing digital asset experience

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Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner Goldsmith Romero cited Joe Cisewski’s experience in digital assets as a key reason behind onboarding him as chief of staff and senior counsel.

Announcing the move on Tuesday, commissioner Romero pointed to Cisewski’s 14 years of experience working across the CFTC, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and crypto venture fund Pantera Capital.

“Joe’s unique combination of public and private sector experiences will serve us well as we take bold steps to ensure the resilience of our markets, protect investors and market participants,” she said, adding:

“His fluency on digital-assets and other issues will be valuable as the Technology Advisory Committee embarks on its agenda later this year.”

Prior to this new role, Cisewski most recently served as the general counsel to Pantera Capital, which claims to have 100 venture investments and $5.1 billion assets under management (AUM).

He provided the firm with legal and regulatory guidance relating to the firm’s funds and investment advisers, while also engaging with regulators over Pantera’s projects and portfolio companies.

In May, Cisewski attended a roundtable between crypto industry professionals and the CFTC in which potential regulation relating to the clearing of margin products (including crypto) without a futures commission merchant (FCM) intermediary was discussed.

In his previous stint at the CFTC, Cisewski served as the senior special Counsel and policy adviser to former commissioner Mark Wetjen, who, similarly to Cisewki, left the public sector to take up a role at major crypto exchange FTX as its head of policy and regulatory strategy late last year.

CFTC and crypto

Alongside the SEC, the CFTC shares a major role in the regulation of crypto in the United States, and its role could soon outweigh that of the SEC’s if the Responsible Financial Innovation Act tabled by crypto-friendly senators Cynthia Lummis and Kirsten Gillibrand is enacted next year.

The two senators have repeatedly said that most crypto assets would be classified as commodities, and should that hold true, it would effectively give the CFTC a broader jurisdiction over the sector than the SEC.

Related: SEC listing 9 tokens as securities in insider trading case ‘could have broad implications’ — CFTC

As previously reported, CFTC chair Rostin Behnam announced on Monday that the regulator was expanding the scope of its fintech-focused LabCFTC unit to fall under the Office of Technology Innovation (OTI).

Behnam stated that CFTC is ramping up its focus to provide “important regulatory protections” for commodities markets, including crypto.

“We are now engaged in a more proactive and comprehensive effort across the agency to regulate these markets with the tools currently available to us,” Behnam said.

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