CFTC commissioner appoints crypto-experienced CME Group director as chief counsel

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CFTC commissioner appoints crypto-experienced CME Group director as chief counsel

Kristin Johnson, one of five commissioners currently serving at the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, has announced that a CME Group executive director with experience in crypto will be joining her staff.

In a Thursday announcement, Johnson said Bruce Fekrat will be her chief counsel at the CFTC starting on June 1. Fekrat worked as an executive director and associate general counsel at the CME Group for more than eight years, where he was lead regulatory counsel for issues including digital assets. During his time at the derivatives marketplace, he regulated cryptocurrency reference rates and helped in the development of financial products including Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) derivatives.

Nominated by U.S. President Joe Biden in September 2021, Johnson was sworn in within days of both Christy Goldsmith Romero and Summer Mersinger filling the other vacant commissioner seats at the CFTC in March 2022 — the government agency normally has five commissioners in its panel. In addition to Fekrat, Johnson announced Lillian Cardona and Natasha Robinson Coates will join her staff as interim senior counsels.

Though former commissioner Dawn Stump previously told Cointelegraph that the CFTC “does not regulate crypto assets even if they are commodities,” having staff with experience in cryptocurrencies could potentially influence digital asset regulation in the United States. 

At present, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, CFTC and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network handle issues dealing with digital assets in the United States, including regulation and enforcement. However, each agency often has different jurisdictional claims, resulting in a regulatory patchwork approach many industry leaders have criticized.

Related: Bringing crypto market ‘into the light’ doesn’t address enforcement: CFTC chair

During Fekrat’s tenure at the CME Group, the derivatives marketplace launched Bitcoin futures contracts in December 2017 amid the bull run and later went on to introduce micro Bitcoin futures in May 2021 and micro Ether futures in December 2021. In March, the group announced it would launch options trading for its micro Bitcoin and Ether futures products, subject to regulatory review.

Cointelegraph reached out to Bruce Fekrat, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.